Saturday, March 26, 2011

A work in progress.

I'm a first time dog owner. I'd walked other people's dogs, but never had a dog of my own until I bought Chandler. I think things have worked out well, in general. We've weathered Chandler's fear issues, and he has turned into a decent canine citizen. Still, he's not perfect. I figure most of our little training glitches stem from my inexperience. Chan can be alternately goofy and hard-headed, and I don't always know how to motivate him to make a rapid response. In translation, this means he listens, but sometimes he takes his time about it or puts his own mischievous spin on what I am asking of him.

Interestingly, because he does listen I have found that when I think Chandler is at his worst, other people think he is being a well behaved dog. This probably says more about the training of your average suburban pet than it does about me. Fortunately or unfortunately for me, my role model can open the back of her van in an elementary school parking lot, and none of her five dogs will jump out without permission.

Despite all the cars and families passing through the parking lot for lacrosse practice.
Even when she's standing 100 feet away from the van next to the school having an hour long conversation.
Even if she is standing next to and interacting with unfamiliar dogs.

No, Chandler isn't *quite* ready for that yet. We both need to learn more.

Chandler occasionally has problems with his recall. These trouble me because of the importance of a reliable recall. I classify them into two types, the "answering machine" problem, and the "joyride" problem.

Generally I have the "answering machine" problem with Chan's recall if he is intently sniffing something interesting. His brain won't reengage to run back to me until it has disengaged from whatever he is smelling.

Hello. You have reached Chandler,
but all his brain cells are occupied with his nose.
Please leave a message after the beep,

and he will get back to you at the first opportunity.

In contrast, when we are having the "joyride" problem, Chan starts out with an enthusiastic run back toward me. It's just a little bit TOO enthusiastic; my boy loves to run.

I feel the need. The need for speed.

What starts out as an enthusiastic recall suddenly collides with the zoomies and Chan shoots straight past me instead of coming to a stop in front of me. If he was a small boy, I swear I would probably hear a "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" as he goes by. He then does a couple of full speed figure eights around me before sliding to a grinning stop at my feet.

The problems rarely show up if we are out hiking with a friend. I think Chandler is a bit more motivated to be prompt if he has competition.

I'm first in line for the cheddar, right?

Unfortunately, getting a second dog isn't in the cards right now, and frankly I feel it is important to solve these sorts of problems and learn more about Chan and myself before getting another dog.

It occurs to me that we missed a few concepts. Come should mean "Return directly to me right now!" Most of the time we don't have a problem, and I wonder what I missed in his training that causes us to have occasional difficulties. Maybe I should have done more longline work before letting him totally offleash. In the meantime, I'm trying to discourage these little recall snafus without discouraging him from coming, because he eventually does arrive where he is supposed to be.


  1. Dude, Chan's version of the joyride is, trust me NOT A PROBLEM.

    Now, when the joyride turns into a drive-by -- PROBLEM.

    Nothing more fun than a dog who blasts you a raspberry as he streaks by just out of reach, with no intention of letting the cops catch up with him.

  2. Well, that is reassuring. :)

    So far he's only gone "joyriding" in the middle of the backyard or in the woods. I'm just worried the doofus might try it next to a road someday.

    A fast down during recall from a distance would probably be a good thing to learn, in that case. We've got a bit of that, but only indoors so far.

    As far as drive by toothings go, thankfully Chan is quite bite inhibited when it comes to humans, either from early training or genetics. It has never been an issue.