So, y’know…

I started watching Garrett’s free videos this morning while eating breakfast. And I got through the first one and didn’t get very far into the 2nd one when I had to actually go to work. But it’s going to be about ‘It’s yer choice”  and that whole gamut.

And then I went to the Pony Club to run the dogs this morning and as I drove along I thought: Ok, I’ll put Lu’s bells on her because the other day there was kangaroo poo around there so there must be roos hanging out, and I’ll just keep an eye open, but we didn’t see any with Loki… As I pulled up to park, there were 3 just sitting there right near the entrance. Great. So we went down to a different, less animal-y dog park instead (and I haven’t been going to my normal park because if anyone arrives she barks at them and runs at them barking and although she’s completely friendly and harmless, she’s doing her guard bark and frankly, it’s embarrassing and worrying) where there were less animals but more dogs.

Walking in, there was a goldie and a German Shepherd playing near the river there. Great! Mal was attacked by a shepherd as a younger dog and now he hates them (understandably! I think he’s absolutely terrified of being eaten again). And goldies are too friendly for him, so being bounded up to by an over-exuberant golden-retriever with a shepherd hot on its heels wouldn’t have been ideal. So we steered clear.

Everything was fine and then Lu saw those damn moorhen birds that I’ve been training Loki not to chase and of course she takes off, chases it, does a big circle and comes back to me. Loki followed her the whole way, so that’s awesome (read sarcasm).

And as I got back in the car, I thought about Garrett and recallers and how her whole premise is that the dog is choosing to do what you want it to do and therefore thinks its a great idea and I thought how the hell am I ever going to get Lu to not chase, or to come back when I call her? Honestly, what is going to be better for her, in her mind, than chasing things? Oh, here, have a kibble and let’s play a game and maybe you’d like this tug toy? No, really. Like, oh, let’s like, do some spins and stuff and then you’ll be really excited to stay with me!



And so I know, I need to finish watching the video but I don’t see how Lumen choosing to not eat some food is going to make her choose to not chase those amazingly awesome kangaroos she can smell. How is anything going to beat that? I can see that like maybe you can do it so if she looks back at you then she’s made the choice to ‘check in’ so she gets to go chase something, but she’s not a moron, as soon as she’s not on lead, there’s no way she’s going to wait around for my ok.

And I understand that maybe it’s going to be about the dog wanting to work to get things it wants but then comes in the question of what if your dog doesn’t want anything except the thing he’s really not allowed to have?

Anyway. I don’t know if she has limited spaces for the course when it opens up, or if the rest of the videos will shed some more light on it, but I’d really like to have relaxing walks with my dogs- all of them- wherever we want to go, even if it’s at dusk or whatever. I’m ok with having her on lead, but it’d be really nice if she didn’t have to be, all the time.

I know people have had success with their course even with their super hunty dogs so there must be some sense to it, I’m just feeling a bit down about Lu again at the moment. I think I described her in another post as insufferable. And that’s about right – she’s just making it very difficult to go anywhere, between the hunting and the barking at people right now.

8 thoughts on “choice

  1. Awww…an insufferable Aussie? Imagine that? 😉 I took Recallers a couple years ago and did all the exercises with three Aussies and there were a lot of fun games for the dogs to heighten their desire to be with you. I was always really worried about letting my dogs run loose because they had gone missing chasing deer, but it did give me confidence to trust them off leash in the fields and woods, though I am constantly rewarding all the good decisions to come back to me. In the last few years I imagine she has added more material and I believe the price has gone up, so on the balance I’m not sure if it is what you want *but* I do think that playing various games with the dogs (they can be games YOU make up; some of the ones in Recallers are very basic like Hide and Seek) does help with recall.

    We don’t have kangaroos but plenty of other interesting critters. Oh god, though, a kangaroo would probably melt down my Aussies’ American brains. 🙂

    • Em says:

      It’s funny because I don’t think (or didn’t think?!) Aussies were meant to be insufferable! My boy Mal has been the best, sweetest, most awesome dog for his whole life, and I got him at 18 when I knew very little about dog training and yet he somehow still turned out well. Then I got Lu and did all this stuff and knew more and shaped her and did everything right and she’s a right-royal bitch. What?!
      Your story is fantastic though- that they used to chase and run off on you and now you feel confident enough to let them off and they come back. We have feral deer here, too. The thing with Lu is, she always comes back- I’ve never had to wait around for more than… 5 minutes? For her to come back. But the other day she chased some roos across a road. I’d rather she come when called in that situation, and she can chase all she wants in the middle of the bush and come back slower then, you know?
      I sometimes feel lucky that MOST of our animals are noctornal so we actually don’t see all that many when out walking… But rabbits, roos, wallabies, foxes and deer are usually enough. 😉

      • Yes that is plenty to proof for distraction!! 🙂 And ha, I was kidding, they aren’t insufferable. I have lived with five (currently four) and only insufferable if a few of them get it into their head to bark at random sounds on television or a delivery man. But what I love about them is how observant they are … so … well, I just have to roll with it. 🙂

  2. I think it just works well because it gives a very structured and clearly laid out way to slowly build up value in returning to you/premacking things/removing the opportunity to make the wrong choice. I took it when Feist was a tiny puppy, I’m hoping when they open again it’s open to people who’ve done it before, like they’ve done in the past, as I’d love to re-do it and of course forgot to download the materials like you were supposed to, before the class ended. Basically, I just think it works because of the consistent approach it gives you, not because any one exercise is awesome. 🙂

    • Em says:

      Thankyou for your feedback on it, too. It’s always helpful to see people’s experiences. 🙂
      Definitely consistency is good, and Andreja explained in her recent post about taking away the opportunities to make the wrong choice, so, I guess it’s a combination of all those things you mentioned to build that more valuable picture of returning to YOU in their head. 🙂

  3. iffebim says:


    I hope it is ok if I comment as I have neither taken Recallers nor have a dog that is particularly hard to recall.
    When reading your post I thought that maybe allowing Lu to chase in the secluded bush actually makes the training harder. Hunting is so immensly reinforcing, I think if she can sometimes have the thrill of a hunt and then other times not, maybe it is especially hard to recall her on those forbidden occasions? Just a guess, though…

    My pup ran away from me about 3 times when he was small (I know, it is not that often), so I came up with this plan: on the one hand I wanted to increase my value (by playing games, having delicious chicken/sausage in my pocket etc.), on the other hand I wanted to make it very clear that hunting things was not. an. option.
    I set him up for failure by having him on a long line and approaching wild animals. When he took off, I casually stepped on the long line. Sorry dude, no taking off after animals, evah.
    I thought that by approaching the issue from both sides – making me more fun and showing that hunting is no fun since it is not going to happen anyway – I would make my goal clearer.

    Just some thoughts! I don’t even know whether this is in line with SG or not.

    • Em says:

      Of course it’s ok! I love hearing people’s experiences and ideas. 🙂
      It’s interesting, there seems to be 2 schools of thought on this: 1. Never let her hunt (which Silvia said, but Silvia’s method for training her dogs not to is just ‘walking around lots of animals and then they know not to hunt them’ so, y’know) but then the question is what do you do if they already love to hunt? and 2. Allow them to hunt once you’ve established a ‘premak’ routine of ‘checking in’ or similar, so they hunt but like, you’ve allowed them to… kind of.
      It’s hard though because I tried with Lu somewhat as a younger dog to do work with lots of cool food, toys, etc with rabbits around and that I was more exciting/interesting/whatever… but maybe I didn’t stick it out for long enough, or do it right or something because it didn’t work. And I’ve tried long-line but maybe I needed gloves on or something because it hurt too much to do… and again, I think she was actually ‘ok’ on lead, and could show restraint, etc, but as soon as she was off, she’d be off, so to speak. Once she knew she was on lead, she hardly bothered to ‘try’, so I’d have to make a show of taking the lead off and do it again then, I guess.
      I feel like I’ve made a lot of excuses in my reply just now, which wasn’t my intention, more to describe what I’ve done… Although to be honest, I don’t tend to stick with things very well if I don’t see some success almost immediately, so possibly that’s part of my problem.

      • iffebim says:

        Oh, maybe I did not explain well enough. I put a harness on my dog and a long line on the harness. Then we walked like that, long line dragging on the ground, so technically he was not on-leash (at least not in his head). And then I just stepped on the line when he tried to take off (so, no gloves needed and no hand injuries).
        Hope that makes it clearer? I would also randomly clip the leashes on and off, or call him and just pretend to clip off the leash etc. I trief very hard to outsmart him re whether he is wearing a leash or not 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s