14 July 2008

Recall training-a primer.

Today we took the dogs hiking in the forest. You're not supposed to have dogs in the forest, but you know me and my lawbreaking ways when I want to walk my dogs. It's the forest that you get to by parking your car at the No Dogs Allowed University, then hiking through the No Dogs Allowed cattle pastures, then down a hill to the river, then up a hill to where the trails get more narrow and the terrain darker and more redwoody and far from everyone else. Where still No Dogs Allowed but no one around in there to really care.

We used to take Timmy there a lot. Gary remembers hiking in there with him in the pouring rain once, but I don't. You cross the river over a narrow log way high up over the water, although in the summer it's a trickle of a creek and we just hopped on rocks through it so the dogs could drink and splash around some.

So you remember I had some dog chasing deer problems up in Boonenville. Ending in Ruby getting kicked by the deer after it had enough of being ambushed by dogs the size of loaves of bread made of gentle forest gnomes. Bad dogs. Never had livestock or deer chasing dogs before. Skimboarders, yes. Deer? Sure they might go off on a short dash for a second, then good dogs always come back when they're called. I have trained dogs. I think. Right? They know how to get up on that table and lay still for 5 seconds, that counts for something doesn't it?

So while hiking, we saw this. Or heard it first. A scenic deer family quietly munching lichen or twigs or whatever it is deer eat in the dark forest.

And when the deer heard us, off they went. Up a vertical, steep slope that looks like it went on forever. Because we are deep in the forest here. If there were hobbits or enchanted woodcutter cottages or witches covens, this is the part of the forest they would be in.

And two bad dogs went off in pursuit. Straight up the forest cliff wall, like bolts of tiny lightning.

One dog was a good dog. Ruby seems to recall the deer kick incident as being somewhat of a negative experience and decided to not go off on the hunt.

The two bad dogs, seem to recall the last deer incident as the funnest thing in the world. More fun than joining the whole Love Boat gang on the Love Boat reunion tour with Isaac's bar open the whole time and free tattoos by acclaimed tattooers all night. More fun than any activity planned by Cruise Director Julie, even on Dog Agility Casino Nite. And in a flash, just like that, they were gone. Tiny little dots of black running up the redwood cliff and away.

I was not happy. I sat there and waited a long time, whistling so they would find the sound and head back. And they did. Maybe not even gone that long. Come flying down this cliff through logs and trees and brush and stickers, straight down the mountainside they did run. Roped 'em up and marched 'em out of the dark forest. When got back up to the meadow, let them loose again to get some more running done. Good dogs for a while, then heard another deer. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. Same exact scenario, two bad dogs I believe chased them all the way back down to the river before running back up to us.

So I now have 2 confirmed deer chasing dogs. I believe I read things on the internet and in dog books about how good dogs, meaning trained dogs, always come when called. Even when there are deer or skunks or lions or elephants or goblins, pick your poison. I think my dogs used to do this. And now they don't. We don't visit the forest too often, so it's not like they chase goats and I have pet goats and I can implement a carefully planned, step by step training program about goat chasing. Shock collars likely take care of this but I couldn't bear the thought. So maybe I don't have forest hiking dogs anymore. So much for good dog training skills.


Anonymous said...

I have always had deer chasing dogs, even before I did agility and Obedience and therapy and all that. As far as I know they've never caught one (they haven't returned with a leg or anything) so I just consider it time to myself. I read or paint, sometimes nap while they're gone. They always return and then we go on until the next chase begins.

team small dog said...

I just sat down on a rock and whistled every so often and was like sitting in the forest waiting room.

I think I had this secret hope lots of people who are good dog trainers (I suspect you might be a really good dog trainer) would write in on the comments about how their dogs chase deer too. Yay!

But not very many of you did. Uh oh. Confirming my Having a Good Recall means even when chasing deer suspicion.

Anonymous said...

Our problem is cats with the Jack Russells,here in town where we live. Nothing like the spectacle of screaming white dogs running through your neighbor's yard after their cat with evil white dogs kids chasing after them telling them to stop. Or even worse at agility class at your instructors house where you TRAIN your dogs to have them go crazy after her cat and almost catch it! We also have the Border Collie cheering team egging the evil white dogs on. So, no you aren't alone in the chasing/call off thing. Our rule is evil whiteness on leash and if you are walking and happen to see a kitty, you use secrete code to each other to try to get them past without them seeing the cat.

minnow said...

Oh, I'm not a good trainer but I do have good deer-chasing dogs. I have even lost deer-chasing dogs overnight. In February. Deer come by every day, so I have special dog paddocks and now 6 acres w/ invisible fence. Dogs can be shot running deer in Vermont.

I am working on the recall where you jackpot them on a special recall word that you only use in extreme situations. Since furry stuff motivates them I have this gigantic stuffed skunk that only comes out when I yell that word and they come flying to go nuts on it. I am probably just conditioning them to go after skunks.