Specs doing extra recall practice after her agility training, yesterday. She almost reported on her performance herself, but there were too many long words needed and she didn’t know how to spell them, and she was too upset by the prospect of dogs having tea trays land upon them to write this herself.
At Kirkley Hall Agricultural College, Northumberland. Their equestrian centre. Complete with horse scents and wildlife scents and maybe even some sheep scents. Yes, she does stop to sniff pretty frequently, she is a real dog, but none of it stopped these lovely recalls.
Jackie has recently changed her recall command from “Specs Come” to “Babes”. Why? Because we’re going to use “Specs Come” as her final, 99.99% recurring success rate recall command. And she isn’t there yet. Yes, she’s pretty darned good, but we haven’t tested her against enough distractions, she simply isn’t old enough yet. So we’re going to use “Babes” as her teaching command because we do need some way to call her when she’s learning and we’re going to put “Specs Come” back again when she’s old enough.
Why did Jackie teach her final command at the start? Because we’re learning all the time, reviewing in the light of new stuff. Because Jenny advised she does and it’s Jenny that’s the professional dog trainer and once in a while has helpful hints to share.
Is it worth it? Yes, I think it is. I like a very good recall and I don’t want to wreck my adult, 99.99% recall command by using it on a puppy who is still not completely trained. Why not 100%? Because no dog is perfect and we always need to be aware that there’s that chance of failure, even in the best of dogs. Stops us taking silly risks like letting dog off lead near traffic, that kind of thing.
There are often times we need to change commands. Main ones being when a command has become tainted in some way and where we’re changing to a better command.
Tainted? Sometimes called a “Poisoned” command (cue, trigger, whatever). Something has happened that has given our animal a bad association with a command. We’ve called him in from the garden and when he got into the kitchen a tea tray landed on his head. He now worries about our recall command which was a nice word before the tea tray got him.
Better command? Words are generally better than signals, words carry further, they work even if dog isn’t looking at us. It’s a tenet of dog training that your verbal command always takes precedence over your signalled commands.
So, we were giving the new, weaker command, “Babes” just before the stronger one, “Specs come”. Dog learns the familiar command is on its way and starts to offer the behaviour on the new command. Specs is pretty much there. It’s on the video, Mo needed to use the old command just the once when Specs was heading towards Caroline. Lovely training.
Highlights video about 1 min 20.
Complete video about 3 mins 20.