'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Friday, 21 January 2011

Four Months Old; Recall; Retrieve.

Today my little rat-girl is four months old. I've had her for just shy of two months. It's amazing to think that - it seems like I've had her for seconds and for years, all at once. She's my little angel; the first day she came she parked herself on my lap, and she hasn't left since.

Yesterday, whilst out walking just Lola (with Jess resting until her leg's back to normal), I hid from her when she blew off my recall to play with another dog. I didn't call again - I just turned around and ran. A second later, I heard her pounding away after me. I managed to put 10m between us slip behind a tree just before she came into sight, and she whimpered for a minute or so, growing increasingly frantic, until I calmly and quietly cleared my throat. She immediately hurtled around the tree and leapt up at me, doing her I found you, there you are, hello there! screaming yip. Ten minutes later, she set off after a squirrel. I blew the whistle and, immediately, she turned around (despite being only 3 or 4m from the little thing) and ran full speed back to me. Today, I recalled her off of several crows with great success. What an obedient little firecracker.

We've been working on her retrieve today. I decided to start afresh last night, scrapping our previous fetch work (which we'd reached an awkward point with) to begin shaping a fetch, rather than trying to force one. Last night, we worked on her targeting the ball in my hand, then mouthing at it. By the end of this morning's session, she was five for five for following picking the ball up from the floor when I rolled it away from me. At the end of the afternoon session she lifted the ball clean up into the air without hesitation, and by tonight's final session she was lifting the ball and taking two steps back toward me, five for five. She seems to really enjoy it: a light goes on in her eyes when I bring out the ball. Perhaps she's not a ratty terrier after all; maybe she's a retriever with her legs cut off. Who knows!

Here's to a good puppy, and hopefully a good long life with her.


Crystal said...

Wow! That training log is IMPRESSIVE!!!

Sara said...

Remarkable recall for such a young dog. I'm not sure if my dogs would call off from a squirrel. Great job!

Sophie said...

Crystal: Thanks! I've been keeping them 100% for certain behaviours (retrieve, stay and eye contact at the moment) since your post - they're great.

Sara: I bet she won't when she's older! Just the fact that I'd hidden from her only twenty minutes before when she'd blown me off made her change her mind and come veering back. :)