Star Light, Star Bright

The sport of dog agility is a fairly small world. There are only a handful of training systems and trainers tend to be very passionate about which system they have chosen. One of the most well-known trainers, popular mainly for her positive-only methods, is Susan Garrett.

Quite frankly, Ms. Garrett intimidates the crap out of me. It’s not all the titles she has won with her impressive dogs; that is just a side note. Many people have earned many ribbons. No, what overwhelms me the most is her conviction. When working with her dogs or teaching her students, Susan Garrett is absolutely one hundred percent confident. Even when she makes a mistake or something doesn’t work out, she doesn’t let it throw her off her game. Instead, she quickly re-evaluates and tries it differently the next time. This strong belief she has in her own abilities – combined with her extremely positive attitude –  is why she has been so successful.

And why she terrifies me. I just can’t relate to that.

So I think I deserve some credit for bravery when I entered Susan Garrett’s second video contest in order to gain entry into her Recallers 3.0 online course. You or may not remember I submitted a video in the spring as well for the second installment of her course on teaching a better recall. It wasn’t very good or well-planned. I think I was shaking the entire time. But I did it. Unfortunately, time did not permit me to participate as actively as I would have liked. That and I am lazy. When I heard she was running a third one, I knew I had to screw my courage and try again. For Shiva’s sake.

Unfortunately, even after all our efforts, Shiva’s recall is still not brilliant. It’s better, much better, but not solid. Shiva will still always choose food over working with me. Even if that food is just a crumb of moldy bread. In my opinion, it is the one thing standing in our way from dog training glory. Sure and she is not exactly perfect at a great many other things, but I feel like if we could just get this down, if I could prevent her from running around the agility course like her head fell off, then all the other problems won’t matter.

Naive? Maybe. But I’ll take being naive with a perfect recall.

Is there an aspect of your training you have struggled with the most? If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about your dog’s behaviour?

24 thoughts on “Star Light, Star Bright

  1. I look forward to hearing about your recall class. I’m curious to know if Shiva knew you had something really great in your pocket, like salmon jerky or liver, would that lure here away from the seeds?

    My training challenge is Honey’s fear of moving objects. I’m having to be especially patient. My winter project is to get her ready to ride in my Doggy Ride bicycle cart in the spring. So far, she’ll put her head in the cart. And we’re working on having her do a down stay when I move it slightly.

    Thank goodness for having a food motivated dog or I’d give up hope.

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  2. Delilah’s problem is the same as Shiva’s, she eats anything she finds on the ground. I would change that if I could.

    You find the best resources Kristine, I really don’t know how you do it. I am in awe of you, not only do you write a blog daily, you train your dog, you comment on other people’s blogs and you find great resources!

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  3. Stumpy and Shiva once again are twins. If there is the slightest scent of food in the area I cease to exist, in her world. It doesn’t matter if I have the tastiest treats in my pocket. Oh! food includes rabbit, deer and goose poop (probably others, too)

    Happy, Waggin’ Tails, FUREVER!
    Stumpy and me

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  4. I would get Gwynn to walk loose-leash the entire walk, even when there are cats, or a mysterious smelling bush in the middle of someone’s lawn. And maybe beside me, if it’s not too much to ask 😛

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  5. I think Shiva should get extra points for having fun. Pearl is similarly distracted by food (and squirrels, and rustling leaves, and neighbors talking… yeah she doesn’t pay attention to me very well). Does being super food motivated make it easier to train Shiva in other situations?

    If I could change one thing about Pearl’s behavior it would definitely be her reactivity. I could live with all the other stuff if I didn’t have to worry about her losing her mind.

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  6. My #1 training challenge is me. I get too flustered when one of the dogs misbehaves and it impacts my ability to deal with the situation effectively in order to progress our training. I get embarrassed, frustrated and simply red in the face. I need to work on being that calm, confident person and my dogs will flourish when I can achieve that Zen. If I ever can…

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  7. Susan Garrett is SO intimidating! But I love her stuff. I should really get her crate games DVD, but I hate spending money, ha. Whenever Susan Garrett produces free stuff, I’m all over it!

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  8. I thought the recall you showed was really nice. Good job!

    Thunder needs to work on holding his bird all the way back to his handler. Storm needs to work on not breaking. Both need to work on their on lead heeling at hunt tests (which is hard to train when not at a test). Those are our winter projects. 🙂

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  9. Why are you intimidated by Susan Garrett? Her personal dogs are Border Collies which are the smartest & most trainable dogs. Not trying to disparage, but just making my own observation…. If she had Afghan Hounds (sorry Afghan people) then I’d be impressed. Never, ever, ever let anyone intimidate you. Ever. Shiva may not be the perfect model of an agility dog, but what dog is? This is your journey, enjoy it, roll with it 😀

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  10. Great video. Shiva has such a wonderful place to run. In my book I wrote about a time when Kelly got chasing after ducks in a lake and wouldn’t return when I called. She got out too far and tired. It was very scary. We ended up rescuing her in a rowboat. So I would definitely like to work on Kelly’s recall, especially when tempted by ducks!

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  11. There’s four of us so my mom and dad try their best. We’re all seven years old now and most of us still go for agility classes but my mom and dad would like to make Owen less reactive to other dogs. He’s gotten better at dealing with that issue with some additional training and time. There’s more work to be done but we’ll get there.

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  12. That is so brave! You should be so proud of your and Shiva’s progress.

    Our ongoing training issues are Lamar’s anger at having his territory invaded, and Fozzie’s extreme environmental stimulation and prey drive. I am starting to think that both are issues best dealt with by management and resignation, and are bigger than me with respect to my abilities to train something different.

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  13. It is nice that you are determined to participate on the training since you already made a video about Shiva. I hope that you could be able to get the training in the near future. My puppy is also similar to Shiva because he pays attention to food. But I am glad that my pet is active and eager to socialize with people. I am not sure if I will be brave enough to participate in the dog training. Thanks for the insights.

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  14. Bold move! She totally intimidates me? Kol’s recall is…better than it used to be, but if he has food – or if he smells that there was once food there…it’s like he’s come unglued. Just how do you turn off tho beagle instincts??

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  15. Ty’s recall is absolutely horrendous. I often joke that if I took his picture running free on a beach, it would be the last picture I’d have of him. I picked up one thing that seems to work pretty well in Control Unleashed – teaching “come” and “go” at the same time. The idea is that if the dog does something you want (come) they then get to do something they want (go sniff that interesting tree). It seems to work with Buster, but Ty doesn’t believe in compromise.

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  16. Shiva and Elli are EXACTLY alike (aside from initial reactivity to dogs/people, I mean). Ask me how many times I had to call Elli away from some peanut buttery cookies she found in the park to actually get her away from them… ask me if she ever* came when I called lol.

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  17. I feel your pain. I’ve always struggled with Toby’s leash pulling in new places, especially around other dogs. Trainer after trainer after trainer, six years and many methods later, I have given up. I now just put him on a front clip harness when I take him some where new, and once he calms down, THEN I switch him to his flat collar….

    PS – Judging by that video, she already has a pretty awesome recall. I bet you’ll get past that food thing eventually. 🙂

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  18. I just wanted to let you know how brilliant your ‘Go Sniff’ (release) cue is. Shiva obviously very clearly knows what this means, and I think this is a vital skill for all dog training – including recalls!

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  19. It seems a great dog from the video.

    Good luck on your journey to train him.

    If I had a magic wand,I’ll put my dog to run after the ball and give it back to me,but that’s impossible at the moment for him hehe.

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