Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Behavioural updates and the recall
Good news again the dog with the poorly ears after some further treatment is much better but now and is so fit again it has taken up his bad habits of chasing the neighbour's cars motor bikes and the builders JCB. Size is no object to dogs. Winston and I are invited to meet the family and see for ourselves the problem. I will call and see the vet first, just to check he feels the dog is ready for retraining. My thoughts here are I think the dog is playing in the only way it knows how. We will see and I will keep you informed.
Other good news from the owner of the two young dogs who took an unhealthy interest in prams and bikes. He tells me he purchased the second hand pram and has taken it with them on all their walks and even left it inside their kennel with them. Prams are no longer a problem. This was all the owners idea not mine so nice one. Now he just needs to borrow a bike.
In answer to a question, the other week was did I only write about those cases that are successful missing out the ones that were not. No, I write in real time as they cross my desk. I expect to solve all the problems ultimately but I do not ask how things are going until I have submitted the article. The reason is if you can follow my thinking, you too will think in a similar manner and see if your thinking was correct as we follow the retraining. This way it is a little bit like in a television Soap. It is very easy to use hindsight to cover any original incorrect diagnosis. We had the case of the dominant bitch where we had little progress until the vet suggested the bitch had lived in a caged environment far longer than previously believed.
I am receiving many emails regarding poor recalls and this includes owners in the UK who are using the gas collars. Owners are finding that at a distance the collars though they are working do not make the dog return. We have a dog is Spain that once off on its run there is no way it will come back to the owner even when using the mustard gas.
We also have the dog that likes to go walkabout and even when I used the plain gas it certainly startled it but it did not to stop it going for its trip. It is a very strong and dominating dog so took the gas on the jaw as one of lifes little problems. I did find that when I caught up with in amongst the trees it came to me and glad the gas stopped. After that the dog kept by my side. There was only one further occasion it tried to wander off but came to the come command when I fired the gas for one last time. This is no use to the owner as it is to the owner that he should return.
This is why we must return to the reasons we fail and why there is a need for a good bond with our dogs and to turn away from our belief that dogs know right from wrong. They do not; they simply know genetic and learned rules on how it can survive.
I know that many people can disagree and show, as I can, examples where we would believe that a dog knows it is doing wrong. On the other hand, if you look at each incident in a very childlike and simplistic way there is no crime. There are only actions that equal good results or bad results: Pavlov's rule. They live in a world of simple rules and they do not hold malice, stubbornness nor think ahead. In the wild dogs, do not say, "Right lads get some rest now we hunt at 3pm". If the pack is hungry, they hunt.
If your dog can steal food, it will unless, you have taught it that if it does it will have to contend with your anger. The dog's rule is that the food belongs to the leader first but they are opportunists and if you leave it, they think it is open season.
My dog loved to sleep in Furdy's swivel chair because it was comfortable but as soon as he heard Furdy come in, he would sneak out lie on the floor wagging his tail. Furdy would come in smell the chair then go over to Rolly and growl and nibble his muzzle. Does Rolly think this is a crime? If he knew the penalty for such a crime why do it? The chair was very comfortable and great for Rollys' poor hips and the price was to vacate the chair and simply show submission to the leader. Maybe if Furdy had harmed Rolly in anyway maybe he would have seen sitting in the chair equals a bad result.
I use the word malice and I am certain that many people can give examples of a dog that has picked out one child that has been teasing it and only show aggression to that one child. Again, the answer is No it is the way the child approaches the dog. If the child changes their approach then the dog would also change.
This is how I can approach very aggressive dogs that I have never seen before. By its own genetic rules, a dog must go through a meeting ritual. If I get it right, there is no problem. Yet, moments later someone else can approach the dog and are shown major aggression.
Stubbornness is yet another where owners say they have such a dog. I too have had a dog just like that. I was at a trial in Whitchurch where my dog Lumpy was to complete a 200-yard send away. This only ever happened in competitions where he would only go out 50 yards and start to have a good sniff. He would neither go further out nor come back to me. I must say there was anger in my voice as the judge said if my dog wees, I was dead meat. At his request, I backed up my truck and called Lumpy one last time then I got into my truck and drove off. Fortunately, it was over a mile to the main road so at half a mile I could see my dog running after me. I stopped and let him in and after that, he always came whenever I called him again. The judge told me later my dogs face was a picture when he realised I had left him.
Therefore, I hear you say what has all this to do with poor recalls. First, test this out for your selves. When I listened to the talk by John Rogerson I went from believing in the flat world society to the round world society and then it all fell into place for me. There are many rules that seem to fit both beliefs but for only one do all the rules apply.
You must have a good loving bond with your dog where your dog sees you as leader and happy being subordinate to all humans. You must try to work on the basis the dog will only follow Pavlov's rules. (I blame the Lassie films myself) Yes you can make a dog do all that you want it too with pain and make all rules your dogs fails painful but for a recall once the dog is some distance from you it can always run away unless it thinks you can control it from afar. That maybe is why they invented electric collars. Unfortunately, dogs do not understand pain from 'out of the blue' and look for someone to blame. I hear that one collar works at 800 meters. Farmers have been working collies at great distances for years and never needed punishment as a control nor gun dogs. I have heard of the punishment some dogs can incur should they fail in a days hunting here but that is human failure not the dog's failure.
We all love our dogs and when everything is going along smoothly we can create a unique loving bond with another sentient creature that actually seeks us out for that same feeling and for security. We may not know the exact language but dogs do understand most of ours and in time, we do have an uncanny feeling of conversing with our dogs. Its like there are many ways of saying hello but between dogs and humans we can get the gist.
Most dogs are like this but it is when we cannot communicate correctly and fail to fulfil all the dogs' needs it starts to fall apart. We have the dominate dogs or the timid dogs where many people can control such dogs and can act accordingly but some owners cannot react properly and we can have major problems. In the main, most dogs do their own thing no bother to anyone but like Lumpy know how far then can go with their pleasure of something before we get annoyed.
How do we normally train for the recall? Most pups learn to come to you for some pleasure. You yell at a pup it has gone. Slowly your pup learns that it can come when you call some or most of the times because you let errors occur. The more errors the more chances of failure when it is most needed. Train your puppy to always to come to you for meals, fun and attention. Each failure needs five or more successes. Always try to set the task with a high chance of success. Calling your dog for a meal should be a 100% chance of success. If you think you have a good chance to fail, do not do the command. In the early days and applies to men in particular show your feelings of real happiness even if you have to lie through your teeth. Show anger and your dog will keep away from you once it is outside of your personal space.
Whilst the puppy is growing up and not yet old enough to go to dog training classes how many warn their dogs "wait till your old enough and then we will see who is the boss". In the meantime, the dog is accumulating loads of errors.
When you finally arrive at the dog school how is the recall taught. The instructor asks you to put your dog on a long lead. You then make your dog sit by your side. Then on command you attempt to walk away to leave your dog in the sit. (Why do this your dog wishes to be by your side) On the lead you then say come and pull on the lead until it reaches you and you say sit with possibly a "good dog". Which is the praise for sitting or coming? How many have gone though this and then said your dog will do recalls in classes but not outside or only this type of recall outside. To actually call your dog back once it is sniffing or running about there is no chance. I have one lady who said she drags the dog back to where they were and tells the dog off for running off to run round a field and fails to recall. They too use the gas collars and have successes for other problems but not for a recall.
If you wish to learn how to do competition recalls then this method is fine: boring but fine. Its also great if you have one of those deep angry voices that could freeze molten steel. For the rest of us the only way to get your dog back is by implanting into your dog that the recall is for the very best of pleasures. To fail is you will leave them and why a strong bond is so important because it is a pack animal. Being on its own is not an option but if you fail to meet its needs, it can still survive on its own. Dogs will still seek out human companionship but as in New York and in Romania all dog have the genetic rules and quite capable of surviving on their own.
Remember also Pavlov's rule if there is no food after you ring the bell then the dogs will stop drooling. If you call your dog to you and you stop giving praise then the dog will stop coming.
Though the recall is one of the most important commands, when I am training people the recall is purely for fun. Once they are away from you this is the time to call them in for major praise and titbits. Whilst dogs are playing together, I ask owners to call their dogs to them individually. I do not care how they greet you. They can do hand stands roll over or whatever so long as they come into you for loads of fuss and attention. They must also do this for you and for every member of the family as well as any other person who you would like to work your dog.
Please just try it.