Stupidhead Move

a narrow dirt path running into the horizon, with a grassy field on one side, a barbed wire fence on the other, distant buildings and farmhouses in the backgroundDon't you just hate it when you do something dumb? Last week, to my chagrin, I was able to add an incident to my already lengthy list of stupidhead moves. All I can say is, it seemed like a good idea at the time??

Because Cabana's recall at dog parks is atrocious, I've been looking for opportunities in which to practice. On one of our early morning walks, we took the dirt path pictured above. A barbed wire fence runs along this path, with a very large cow pasture on the opposite side. An immense field of grass flanks the path's other side. There are no roads close by, and since I usually walk Cabana fairly early in the morning, no other beings (human, canine or bovine) were around.
cabana sitting in front of the fence, maybe an 8-10 inch gap between the bottom of fence and the groundI kept Cabana's nylon lead attached to her flat collar and purposely let go of the other end, letting her meander and sniff about a bit but still encouraging her to stay near me on the path. I'd call her back to me and reward her with a piece of kibble when she returned. No other dogs to contend with, it was all going according to plan! Until....

close up of barbed wire fenceMuch to my utter surprise, that rascally devil of a dog wriggled herself, lickety split, under the barbed wire fence and ran into the cow pasture! (Thankfully, there were no cows there at the time.) She frolicked around like a crazed lunatic, gobbling up cow poop as she dashed about.

I called to her, but of course, she ignored me. I took out a fistful of kibble...more ignoring. I bent down, patted the ground under the barbed wire, called her name happily and playfully, called her name more sternly...more ignoring.

Finally, in desperation, I thought, darnit, there's nothing else I can do but climb over this barbed wire fence. I prayed I wouldn't scratch myself up too terribly as I gingerly placed a foot on the bottom rung. My standing on the fence, though, completely piqued Cabana's curiosity ("What in blue blazes is Mom doing?", and she came running over to me! Finally, no ignoring!

I got back down off the fence and was able to grab her leash and lead her back under, safe and sound except for a bad case of poop breath. Needless to say, I didn't let go of that leash again. Enough practice for one day.

As we completed our walk along the path, I noticed that there were no other spaces along that fence where Cabana could have fit under. Except for that ONE spot (shown with Cabana sitting in front of it), the wire is much lower to the ground and has a lot of brush growing up under it (as shown in the bottom photo). Of all the places for me to decide to do a little off-leash rehearsal! Next time, I'll try to be more careful--although I'm not naive enough to think this will be my last stupidheaded move ever.

Samantha  – (January 5, 2010 at 5:56 PM)  

Oh Cabana!!! That sounds like par for the course!!! Buggers! I've been having my own difficulties with obedience meeself. It's tough to behave when there are so many distractions, especially foodable (i.e. cowpoop) ones heheh! Sounds like you won't get away with those little maneuvers again. I know... Mom keeps upping the ante every time when I try to outmaneuver her little games!
Love your attempts! Huggies xo

Bethany  – (January 5, 2010 at 6:12 PM)  

Here is an idea for you to try. Do you have a long line (a leash that is about 30 feet long)? If you don't you can by one at pet stores. Anyway, put Cabana on the long leash and first just let her go out a little bit and call her back. Do this a LOT (like days). Then just drop the leash and let her go only a short ways away from you with the leash dropped and call her back again. Do this a lot again. Then keep doing that, but just let the leash go further and further and at somepoint you should be able to just let her go as far away from you and have her still come back to you. And if you want to do this, but have more saftey" if you can have someone else come with you and have them walk between you and Cabana and if she doesn't come and she starts to run have them get the leash before she's off and running! :) Good luck!!!

Ally, Teddy and Kira  – (January 5, 2010 at 6:46 PM)  

Try using much higher quality treats too. Liver treats or something that you only use for recall, that should help solidify it :-D And, yeah, I have stupidhead moves all the time!

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (January 5, 2010 at 6:50 PM)  

Samantha, it's hard for we humans to out-think you peanutty devils!

Bethany, thank you for your great idea. I knew there had to be a better way than what I was doing.

Ally, yes, I need to get some liver treats. I've been using chicken treats, but Cabana seems to be very "whatever" about them. They definitely don't provide enough motivation.

Deborah  – (January 5, 2010 at 7:17 PM)  

Cabana, Your Mom could have been hurt climbing over the barred wire. I think you better not run off anymore! I'm glad she got you back though! My Smokes just would have run and run and run!

Becky  – (January 5, 2010 at 7:26 PM)  

Oh boy! Sounds like an adventure. Yes, have definitely had many stupidhead moves in my day.

Hanakimi  – (January 5, 2010 at 7:58 PM)  

Good luck with your recall training! its one of the toughest things to teach in my opinion. But i would recommend C.E.T.s veggie dents as a high value reward. My CCI service dog Stryker loves them! He will do anything i ask to get them with a furiously wagging tail and bright eyes when he sees me getting one out of the bag lol. The ones i get from my vet are long but perhaps C.E.T. makes smaller ones thought i just break it up into smaller portions if i need it smaller.

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta  – (January 6, 2010 at 4:22 AM)  

Oh, been there, only my pup had horse poop instead of cow poop! Glad you got Cabana to come back with your fun fence climbing trick. I think Hos needs serious help with his come too - so I like Bethany's idea of the long line. Guess I need to get me one of those! :D

Erin and her Dogs  – (January 6, 2010 at 8:18 AM)  

Nope not stupid,at all...something I do when my dogs dodge under my neighbors barbed wire fencing..well number one before I let them off leash I'll have them do something to earn a treat (sit/down/stay) so they know what I have (hot dogs or something high reward) and then I'll release them. And they'll take off...and I walk along minding my own business. At some point they will take off under the fencing, and as long as they don't bother anything I won't make a big deal of it, I'll whistle when the come I'll give them a treat, and walk away in a different direction away from the fencing area. Throwing a ball or something. If I really need them to come, and i know they are too distracted to respond, i'll make some crazy noises to get their attention and run in the opposite direction, not really stopping to see if they come, and than wait it out. If people/animals are involved I"ll make a show of getting them, under control...but for the most part i'm hyper aware of who is around. Anyway wow this is long I hope this helped a little bit!?

OSU 98  – (January 6, 2010 at 8:31 AM)  

Oh Cabana....sigh.

Mimi...she just can't help herself. :)

Katrin  – (January 6, 2010 at 4:31 PM)  

There is a tried and true method of teaching a recall that comes from the herding world. I use it all the time, it works great. 1st I have high value rewards, but I don't necessarily have them right out in the open staring the dog in the face. I release my dog to go run and play. I then when I want, call my dog 1 time. Only ONE time. I give them ONE chance to be a good dog and come. I then, if I do not get an Immediate response from the dog (so no seconds to think it over), I start purposefully, standing tall, with confidence walking towards my dog. I walk that dog down. If my dog goes left, I go left. If my dog goes right, I go right. If he walks forward, I go towards him. All the time staring at him very intently with purpose. I never run at my dog, I never shout, matter of fact I don't talk at all, I just walk with purpose staring, walking him down. When I get to my dog, I gently take him by the collar, say 'come' in a neutral voice and then walk back with him about 10-20'. Then I stop, pet my dog, praise him, give him a cookie and say "ok go play" and set him loose again. A few minutes later, I call him once more. We do this over and over, generally it takes a dog max 10 times before they start going "Oh COME is IMPORTANT and means I better get my butt over to mum FAST!" It really does work. Some dogs get it in as little as 1 or 2 reps. Some dogs are a little slower and you may have to walk further, but just walk that dog down until he stops, then gently take him by the collar for a few steps, praise/pet/reward and set him lose again.

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