Calling Dogs Off

I had a discussion with a friend the other day. His dogs are hunt-test trained (or in training) retrievers. Despite our differences regarding training methods and choice of dog sport, we have discussions about end-result-behaviors pretty successfully. Most recently, he gave me some wonderful advice on Bailey's directed retrieve problem using a common hunt-test drill. I applied it a bit differently than he'd advised, but the basis was the same.

One of our last discussions has still got me a bit confused though. The topic was calling dogs off a chase.

I said I can call Bailey off chasing live animals. She used to run the 80 acre farm at whim and thus had zero impulse control, because I'd never asked her for it. My friend looked at me like I had twelve eyes and said "of course you should be able to call your dogs off a chase." When I began working on the call off, I was new to clicker training and still had that knee-jerk collar correction habit. Bailey and I weren't communicating very effectively, but I'll be darned if I was going to give up and use any kind of physical pressure to get this end result!

I happened upon a post by someone on the original SitStay forum (the cause of my online dog community obsession) suggesting the use of a whistle as my recall cue, because it's not something the dog hears daily and can be loud enough to break through to the brain when a dog is focused on chasing. I don't remember all the details of my training plan (and I'm sure it changed almost daily) but in the end, I could call her off prey (with a whistle) when she gave chase. She also developed impulse control to the point where she was able to see a running animal and NOT give chase.

I never used an e-collar on her. I never attached a long line so she would hit the end and "learn her lesson." I never (intentionally) set her up to fail.

So why shouldn't I have been ecstatic I achieved this end result without inflicting pain? Apparently this is impossible without using force. I don't know about you, but I do know that at least one person has trained his dogs to do far more amazing things without the use of force and pain.


Kristen said...

I want to know what the recommendations were for the directed retrieve!

Kristen said...

I need an answer!

Annie said...

Late in the game reading this, but congrats on doing it without a shock collar. I'm just starting to work with Bella on sitting before retrieving a chucked ball. Very, very difficult for her to do, but shall begin with her sitting by my left side and placing the ball in front of her. Eventually hope to work into moving the ball further and further away until eventually I can throw it and then release her. Wish me luck!