I’m a qualified dog trainer, I have worked with all types, breeds and ages of dogs for most of my life and yet my puppy isn’t perfect?!?!
How is that possible? I put the hours in, I break each behaviour down, I know all the techniques, I see them work time and time again, so how could he throw ME a curve ball?
Today we were on a lovely walk, Gary is on lead off lead as he’s still 6 months. I know the “safe places” on our walks and so judge when I feel comfortable letting him off. As we were finishing the walk we were just about to hit the path that goes home and I let him off but just a little earlier than usual, and today wasn’t a usual day as he darted back.
I wrongly assumed he’d smelt something and wanted to sniff so didn’t react. Well he had smelt something alright, something super yummy and I watched as he kept going up an opposite path into a cafe via the chip shop!
Totally red faced I caught up with him, apologised, and put him on the lead, much to the amusement of all the diners and onlookers.
Moral of the story is I was off guard because it’s a usual route and I took for granted that my 6 month old puppy knew how to behave. I didn’t take in to consideration that the smell of a fry up around the corner would distract my pup from me and his usual path.
I expected too much from my puppy.
I didn’t react fast enough to call him back to a recall until he was in full run.
So what to do:
At this point the only course of action is to run as fast as you can to retrieve and manage the situation. There’s no point in disciplining pup by the time you reach him because he will not know what he did wrong, and we could add more damage to our recall. Right now we need to save the situation.
Pop pup straight on the lead with no fuss, in my situation I led him away as quickly as I could but if you have time, focus your puppy with a Sit and Look, treat the good behaviour and walk them away to heel keeping their focus on you.
Gary’s training has gone so well and his recall is about 85-90% which is really good for his age, but not good enough to be complacent. We will be taking a step back and adding more challenges to his training so that we can get a stronger recall and respect with distractions. As we have discovered he is a total foodie, I will need to up my reward treat value, and train using food distractions.
Don’t expect too much of your puppy and of yourself, don’t move too fast with your training and expect perfection. Your puppy will improve with time and patience. If things do happen that are our of your control, learn from them and adapt your training.
Learn the techniques in class, practice every day adding challenges.
Don’t call and call your puppy on walks, don’t teach your puppy to ignore you because you are background noise.
Recall works as long as you don't set your pup up to fail. If your pup doesn't understand the importance of recall they will only return when they're ready. Start by bonding with Pup, playing recall games, be the one they want to be next to, the one they want to return to. Always be happy when pup comes back, don’t recall in vain, recall when you need to or in training when there is a treat, positive play or fuss on the end of the recall.
Set your recall up for success.
Good luck training!!