Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Celebrating Small Successes

running cade in ky While the Noodle has come a long way in our first year together and our relationship continues to grow, the one area where I have had continued frustration is with off-leash control and his recall in the presence of distractions, especially  motion (moving dogs, moving squirrels, etc.).  We continue to work at it, but it remains our biggest limiter.

So, along comes Susan Garrett with her “5-minute formula for a brilliant recall” e-course.  I resisted at first – I’ve been to puppy camp, own all of her DVDs and books, follow her blog regularly, etc. – and while I always find her instruction to be extremely valuable, I felt like I had to draw the line SOMEWHERE.  Knowing I am powerless against her voodoo-like marketing prowess, I waited until yesterday to watch the promo video on her blog, and then only after receiving at least three emails that morning warning me that time was running out to register.

Well, shortly into the video, Susan mentions how the things in training that frustrate us and make us crazy become the things we hate to work on, and therefore become our biggest weaknesses with our dogs.  That hit home hard, and I realized I had to fix this problem first and foremost.  I emailed my husband to tell him I was ready to “drink the Kool-Aid” and registered for the e-course.

The course begins officially on August 1, but there was already a bonus game available to work on.  A pretty simple, fast exercise.  Last night I played it with Cadence twice in the yard, only spending a couple minutes each time.  Today at lunch, we went outside, played the game again for a couple minutes, then I unleashed him and released him to go sniff in the yard.  He immediately dashed over to a tree with one of the many obnoxious squirrels  that frequent our neighborhood perched about 15 feet up the trunk.  He whined and danced around for a second, then looked back at me.  At which point I shouted “YES!” and he blasted back across the yard to me for another game session.  We partied for a few seconds with the tug toy and treats, and I released him back to the squirrel.  Major, major event for us!

I hardly think we’ve hit a turning point – he is still many moons away from a “brilliant” recall, but it is so fun to see the little lightbulb start to come on every now and then.  Susan also said in one of her videos to celebrate the small successes, and I am definitely celebrating this one.

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