Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cricket-the new recall graduate!

Check out the cute ears!

WELL, we did it. Cricket is an official graduate of the "Fido Come" class.

I must say she did marvelous! On the last class she was recalling with food in the instructors hand and Cricket is the only one the instructor let her nibble on the food and then I called her. Little genius never batted an eye and turned and came back to me as soon as I called.

They had everyone in the class take turns holding food and then calling the dogs off of the food, then the helper would come over and feed the food to the dog, along with the owners treats-pretty good for a 4 1/2 old pup in a new environment with a lot of other dogs running around, and her doing that exercise with all the people in the class.

The other big challenge in the class was having someone hold Cricket, I went to the other side of the yard and Cindy the instructor put down food on the ground making sure the dogs saw the food. I then called Cricket and she came running-never gave the food the slightest attention.

Cindy was saying the way to have the recall a totally conditioned response, meaning the dog just does it without thinking and it is like slamming on the brakes when you are driving, is to have a really strong reinforcement history over a long time. So she advised continuing the type of work we have been doing for at least six months before we start using a variable reinforcement schedule or using a lot of different types of rewards. So I guess even if we are graduates of the "Fido Come" class, the work continues, LOL.

I really liked the class because a lot of it was catching the dog checking in, making yourself fun, setting your dog up for success--a lot of good relationship building goes into that little recall!

For the flip side of the coin....little Crick has not been totally perfect! She is pretty durn close to perfect ;-), as close as any pup can get to being perfect while still being real, LOL, but she does have on behavior I think might be shaping up to be a bit of a challenge, LOL. Cricket is really getting OBSESSED, and obsessed big time with cats. All my border collies sit and stare at the cat. They will sit for hours, but my cat Kimmie is very dog savy and just gives them the look, like "hey, you can stare all you want but I am just going to sit here". She does not run or get upset, so everyone lives happily together. Cricket has been treating the cat like the rest of the dogs do....until very recently-actually seems like the obsession developed virtually over night.

Cricket staring at the cat--poor kittie

When we went outside weeks ago, she saw Kimmie or another cat up on the outside of the window sill. Now when ever we go outside Cricket will try to play keep away so she can sit and stare at the spot where the cat once was. The cat has not been there since, but Cricket knows if she stares at that empty space long enough....it will show up. First clue we had some cat obsession starting.

Second clue--in recall class where Cricket is able to shut out any other distraction and is even doing good with the other dogs movements, she spied a cat-WAYYYYYY far away. I could not get her focus off the cat with food, or play or anything even after the cat was gone. YIKES, like she is pretty intense and doesn't forget where the cats might have been.

Third clue--Cricket is starting to whine at the gate to the room the cat can go in where the dogs can not get in. Cricket will just stare in the room and bark more, most of the time if the cat is in that room the border collies know there is no chance of getting her so they generally get bored and never even glance in there, but not Cricket, LOL. Cricket is also getting closer and closer to chasing the cat when the cat is just sitting she will once in awhile spring and nip, something definitely not allowed in this house, she was corrected the first few times she did it, but I doubt it is the last time I have seen her do that, I think that is definitely a behavior to put the breaks on right away.

I am doing some thinking on how I can teach Cricket to have a little more control. Last summer I was able to work with Liz and the gophers where we were training using a premack principle type of exercise. If she did the weaves she could go obsess on the gophers, if she did weaves-jump, she could go to the gophers, if she did weaves-jump contact she got the gophers and eventually the gophers were not the powerful little critters they had once been. The problem with the cats is that I have to be able to have control of the cats, and get Cricket far enough away that she is not over threshold. I think that might be the next state, LOL. So I am still thinking about this. In the house with Kimmie, who is a familiar cat that is not moving I can tell Cricket "leave it" and then reward her when she moves away and she is doing pretty good with that-I am pretty proud of her for being able to manage that as well as she does. I have to think of some way to work on the feral, wild cats that move fast and are all around where we train, she is way too over the top for "leave it" to work in that situation yet. PUPPIES! LOL.


Sam said...

BIG congrats on the recall class! You're right, that is such an accomplishment for a young pup. She's going to have a smokin' recall when she's all grown up!

No advice on the cats... Marge is like that with squirrels, but usually can break her gaze for some food. Premacking it is always the best but it doesn't seem like it can be done in this case. I'm sure you'll work it out though!

Sara said...

Congratualtions Cricket. Huge accomplishment for any dog, especially a puppy.

There has been an agility sheltie missing in our area for over a week now. Really makes me think about my dogs' recall skills. Do they even have them?

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Congratulations on Cricket doing so well in her recall class!!!! That's something I can't do yet at all - ignore food and come to mom. We aren't even working on that distraction yet! Thanks for the advice on working at least 6 months to get a recall reaction to be instant - we still have a long way to go but that's ok. I'll get it!

Diana said...

Wow, what an awesome recall. There is no way my dogs would pass up food on the ground before comeing to me. Guiness probably would skim by grabbing the food and keep coming. LoL They would probably never go up to anyone holding food, but I could be wrong. Cats, my dog love to chase them. Even Mickey , who I had a cat when I first had him and he grew up around a cat. Sometimes in the summer my neighbors cat likes to hide in the tunnels outside. Then the chase is on. One time I had to go rescue her because she couldnt make it over the fence. But no one hurt her. Silly dogs. Cat runs, dogs chase. Diana

Dawn said...

Wow! Great class, I think that's one (the recall) that I should ask our trainers to put together. It would be so valuable!

And the cat thing? Well good luck! LOL!