Filet Mignon Moment

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Filet Mignon Moment

Postby Catharina » Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:57 am

Yesterday was the first time ever that I had to call Kibo off a running deer while he was off leash. We were riding our bikes and he was zooming back and forth across the path, with woods on one side and a field on the other. As he was running into the trees, I saw the white tail of a deer flash right ahead of him. I whistled (just using my mouth, which is usually not as effective), and heard him stop (bell stopped ringing). While he was trying to decide what to do, I called "Kibo, COME! NOW!!!", jumped off the bike and got my metal whistle, then gave my usual whistle signal with that. He came flying back to me like a shot.

I was very sorry I hadn't any Filet Mignon on me at the moment, but he did get to stick his whole head into the treat bag for a while.

There wasn't any danger of him getting in front of a car in that particular woodland, and I also doubt I could have gotten that response with a groundhog or chipmunk, but I still felt like it was a "payoff moment" for all the work we've put in on the recall during the past few months.

One of my books says it takes an average of three years of dedicated work to get a truly reliable recall. After a period of despairing over "vanishing dog" once more a couple of weeks ago, and demoting him back to "Recall Kindergarten" (= long line) for a while, right now I'm starting to believe again that we have a chance of getting there. Eventually.
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Postby Lorie » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:23 am

Way to go Kibo, great listening skills. I have always wanted to let Melanie and Lex run like that but never knew how to train them the right way to come back. Now if either one gets away from the house, they do come back, but sort of when they are ready....When they do arrive its lots and lots of praise. I have told that to the hubby and kids, no one is to ever call them a bad girl or refer to them in any bad way. Sometimes they do come back quicker than others. That depends if the neighbors cats are out or not.
When we lived in MO when Mel was a pup we had woods behind us and lots of animals, she seemed to do great when she was young. But after about being 6 months old all bets were off and with the coyote running around the housing area. I never wanted to take a chance of an accident happening. I heard that happen a couple times and the sound made me sick to think someone wasn't watching their dog. Especially since it was in the newspaper to be aware of that situation. So I never pursued teaching her, plus being my first dog, I had no idea what to do, let alone, to do it correctly. When Lex came along I thought about it and still had no experience nor anyone to lead me in that right direction.
The time to teach is there, its the the question of how to do it. You have done something that I have always wanted to do and I admire your dedication for that.
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Postby Kristy » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:10 am

That's awesome! I'm always so impressed by the good listeners! :lol:
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Postby Lisa H » Tue Sep 05, 2006 5:32 pm

GREAT! Inspiring post for the rest of us :D
So, tell us, how do you do your recall training? are you following a trainers method or something you made up yourself? I know Shirley Chong has a great recall method...and I started the program, but didn't finish :oops: Sounds like you are well on your way though! :D
Take care....Lisa H
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Postby Catharina » Tue Sep 05, 2006 8:46 pm

Lisa H wrote:So, tell us, how do you do your recall training? are you following a trainers method or something you made up yourself?


Well, most importantly, Kibo's recall is definitely a work in progress (hence my enthusiasm over a single good recall :wink: :lol: :oops: ). I am, most assuredly, not an expert on recall training ...just bungling my way through, really. I guess the one thing we have going for us is that I've stuck with it so far and not given up. Rather than finding a particular magic methodology, I think the most important thing for me has been learning how to handle the failures we've had. More on that at the bottom -- if you've got the patience and inclination to stick with my ramblings.... :wink: :roll: .

For those of you looking for methods or training protocols: Here is a link to an earlier post in the "behavior" forum, where I asked for help, and got a lot of good suggestions, pretty much running the gamut from all-positive to aversive-based methods for training the recall:
http://forum.americanbrittanyrescue.org/viewtopic.php?t=2045

Since that time, Kibo's behaviorist has absolutely ruled out any aversive-based methods for him (due to his fear aggression issues), so I have continued with food-based recall training (as described by a variety of positive trainers). To make it safe, I only let him off where I am sure he's too far from any roads to get hit by traffic, even if he should chase something; alternatively, it has to be a situation where I am totally sure he'll obey (e.g. any sports fields or lawns are fine for him by now, woods and brush are still a bit too iffy). I know those of you training with e-collars get results much faster than I have, and I respect your reasons for using them. Since that's not an avenue I can take, I am trusting that positive trainers like Pam Miller, who insist that positive methods can get me there, aren't lying.

The most important thing I've learned is that I need to be patient and calm, both with myself and with Kibo. A lot of the training books make it sound like a single missed recall is a huge "training emergency" (Ian Dunbar, of all people, even uses those words). While that is perhaps true in an ideal world, I have found the feelings of panic created by that attitude really counter-productive for me.

What really helped me :idea:: Pam Denison ("Bringing Light to Shadow") instead seems to take the attitude that a dog that doesn't respond should be treated more as though it has a "hearing impairment" in a particular set of circumstances, which has to be "healed" -- The idea that Kibo can't respond, rather than won't respond, in particular circumstances, and that I need to enable him to respond by slowly building back up to that particular situations from easier ones has really, really helped me maintain perspective and patience.

She, and other positive trainers, also do a good job of describing "training setbacks", times when things that you tend to think of as "already learned" seem to deteriorate for a while. Learning about those has helped me to simply take a deep breath, go back to something easier for a while, and then come back to the more difficult stages later. "It's not that I'm too inept to teach this, it's not that I've ruined the newly learned behavior forever, it's just a training setback. I'll just patiently go back to something more basic, and then we'll get beyond it."

In practice, this tends to run something like: "Oh, we can't do recall from a hundred yards through goldenrods today, can we?" Fine. Eventually, I'll get him back (remember: no immediate danger to him wherever I let him off!) and we'll do a bunch of repeats at ten to twenty yards instead, then we'll do a hundred yards or more on shorter grass for a while, then build up to the hundred-yard-goldenrod thing again. We won't necessarily get there again today -- next week is good enough, or the week after.

Now, if you'll please all remind me of this philosophical attitude when I'm fuming :oops: next time he can't hear because he's thinking of fish, or muskrats, or who-knows-what..... :lol:
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Postby Barb Wright » Tue Sep 05, 2006 9:30 pm

Catharina....you are such a wonderful inspiration to us all :D You bring out the most positive attitude about not settling for "pretty good" but hanging in there and working for "Very Good :!: ", even working for "Excellent" :D Yours is such a testament to PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE 8) :D Following along with you on this rehabilitation of Kibo has been such a good experience....THANK YOU so much for taking the time to let us share in your successes, not-so-successes :lol: but most of all your PROGRESS :D It's been, and hopefully will continue to be, a most educational saga :D
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Postby Lisa H » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:00 pm

I can't say enough how I admire your attitude about your "setbacks" and how you go back and make it easier and then move on again. It is hard to do that in this "quick fix" world! :? I read Bringing Light to Shadow also and Pam does have amazing patience and the understanding how to step by step bring it all together. It sounds like you are doing just that with your amazing progress with Kibo.

(quote)The idea that Kibo can't respond, rather than won't respond, in particular circumstances, and that I need to enable him to respond by slowly building back up to that particular situations from easier ones has really, really helped me maintain perspective and patience. (quote)

Wow, words to live by in dog training. I saw people at my agility class just tonight, asking too much of their dogs and thinking the dog was in the "won't respond" mode when I knew it was a "can't respond" one. The only reason I know this is because of the "issues' my dog has/had with certain things also.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, *your* journey with Kibo is really helpful and inspirational for all of us!!
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Take care....Lisa H
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Postby Natalie » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:23 pm

Here! Here! I agree! The work you've done with Kibo and your patient approach are definitely inspirational.

I, too, understand about the "hearing impairment" and the difference between "won't" and "can't". Trip gets so, so distracted and at times I know with certainty that he isn't doing what I've asked because he is so absorbed (voluntarily or involuntarily) in whatever distraction/circumstance that he just can't. Its like he knows I'm there, but his body won't let him focus on me. Once I get him out of that "zone" he's in, he'll make the effort to respond. Sometimes he really will look up at me as if to say, :shock: "Oh! You're speaking?!?! To me??? Wow. Never heard a word. Sorry. What was it you were saying?" :roll: And let's face it, in some situations it really is just SO HARD for a dog to respond. I :( have to look at Trip every now and then to tell him, "Yes! I know that was so so hard, but you did good!"

I like your "setback" description, too. I hate hearing/reading the word "failed" so much, when "setback" is far more applicable. Completely different connotation.

Your persistence is as much a gift as your patience is. Congrats on the "filet"!
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Postby Barb Wright » Tue Sep 05, 2006 11:06 pm

Natalie wrote:...but his body won't let him focus on me.


Natalie is right on....but I would like to steal the thought and amend the word "body" to read "instinct.....hard-wired instinct". We have to keep in mind that we have elected to live with a hunting dog, a dog whose heritage is to hunt and point out game. They have this tremendous ability to FOCUS....that is the stuff of champion atheletes, the ability to focus. That means exactly what it says....lock out ALL OTHER STIMULI :!:

So, when we are training them to do the mundane, we are battling strong instincts, and that is what makes training a Brittany not usually an easy do in a lot of cases.

With that understanding in mind...that is, think of them as an athlete with Olympic possibilities :wink: ....you will find yourself being a little more PATIENT in asking your STAR QUALITY ATHLETE to do boringboringboring :P :lol:
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Postby HOPE » Wed Sep 06, 2006 2:51 pm

Way to go Kibo!!! You just made your mommy very proud!!!
Catharina your dedication and patience is paying off, Great Job!!!
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Postby swillow66 » Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:39 am

Mine had the FM moment last night. I had stuck them both in the garage while a potential family was looking at the foster. Poor DH didn't know and opened up the garage door. They took off for the park but when he called them they BOTH came right back! Whew! :D :lol:
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Postby Catharina » Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:32 pm

Yesss! Good for you!

We'll know our Britts have finally achieved the reliable recall we are working for when we all eat spaghetti every night because our entire food budget for the week goes for Filet Mignon for the dogs!
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Postby Lorie » Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:51 pm

Yeah, they listened :D :D time to figure out what store has the filet on sale this week. I almost lost my steak to Sissy last night. No recall involved. :cry: I set the plate on the washer and was watching the grill. Miss Sissy thought I know I can jump on that washer and its a good thing I was watching. Of course the look of shear disappointment on her part made me feel bad, so I made sure I shared with both the girls.
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Postby Natalie » Tue Sep 26, 2006 7:57 pm

Mine had the FM moment last night.


Trip did on Sunday night! I let him and Abby out into the yard and immediately thereafter a black dog came running out of the yard with Trip hot on its heels. :shock: I looked and Abby was still in the yard, so then I realize that the neighbors roaming, unfixed dog was in the yard and Trip (who hates this dog :evil: ) was chasing him out! They got about to the end of the drive before I figured this out, mind you. I called Trip once and he spun immediately and headed to the porch. :D I was amazed! He looked so proud of himself, it was funny! Although I'm sure he was proud of chasing the other dog away, not his exceptional recall moment. :roll:

Poor Miss Sissy! Lorie, I'm sure she thought you'd set that plate up there just for her! I'm sure they appreciated you sharing. :wink:
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Postby Lorie » Tue Sep 26, 2006 8:20 pm

Poor Miss Sissy! Lorie, I'm sure she thought you'd set that plate up there just for her! I'm sure they appreciated you sharing.


Yes, I am sure she thought that no doubt about it. Since this new diet has started I noticed I have to watch the food even more. Yesterday we had chicken on the grill, my daughter got the rub on the it and there is Melanie licking the rub off the leg as if to say..ok I would rather have mine plain. Nothing like having to rinse the leg off and redo it so someone can eat it. So now I need to keep reminding all plates Must be pushed back or in the fridge. Them getting some raw meat or raw bones is going to prove interesting as to who ends up with what and when.
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