October 1, 2023

Wolf Fun

Plink Plink Pets

Calling My Dog off Rabbit Scent at Night

Calling My Dog off Rabbit Scent at Night

A black and white photo shows a bright white dog standing in a dark backyard with leaves on the ground. The dog is alert and his tail is curled over his back.

I love training recall. When my dogs come to me, I love making it worth their while. I love being generous with treats, toys, and fun.

It’s hard to stage a surprise recall with Lewis. Whenever he is lingering in the yard and I get the bright idea to go get a high-value treat and practice his recall, I find him waiting for me at the door when I get back. He and his nose are too smart for their own good. (He’s not the first one of my dogs to have that problem!) But the other night he was very turned on by recent rabbit visits in the yard. He was enjoying it so much I let him spend quite a bit of time out there. I sat on the cold cast iron patio chair longer than usual, taking occasional videos while he galloped, paused, stopped, sniffed, and galloped some more.

He was so engrossed that I was able to go into the house and get a sizable chunk of roast chicken. I came out, he was still engrossed (and out of sight), and I called him.

Sound warning in the video: jingling tags.

One thing you can’t tell from the video is the large quantity of chicken I gave him because my hand was initially out of the frame. By the time I moved the camera, the food was already down the hatch.

A brown and white dog has his mouth on the palm of a woman's hand, having just eaten a treat she was holding.
By the time of this frame, Lewis had already sucked the chicken right down

I’ve stopped doing the often-recommended practice of parceling out multiple pieces of food to make the reinforcement activity last longer. This is a personal decision, based on three things.

1. Dr. Erica Feuerbacher’s recent research about treat delivery.

2. A comment by Ken Ramirez in his book, The Eye of the Trainer. It’s a short section on drawn-out treat delivery on page 47.

3. Observation of my own dogs.

Oh yeah, one more thing: it’s easier!

I’m not suggesting anyone else change their practice; I know that giving multiple treats is part of some brilliant recall methods. There are probably good reasons to do it either way. I hope to write a post about my decision later.

But in the meantime, I didn’t want anybody to think I was being skimpy. That was a mondo piece of chicken Lewis got!

Then, on impulse, I sent him back out to explore again. Why not strengthen that recall just a little more?

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Safety Behaviors: Down at a Distance and Recalls

Copyright 2022 Eileen Anderson