Monday, June 29, 2009

The red whistle...

I know that Beagles are bred to be scent hounds and have a reputation for being persistent when on the trail. This is great if you are training them to hunt. Not so great when you are training them to respond to a re-call. I decided to train them using a whistle. It is far more piercing than my voice which needs to penetrate a brain that has shut down all senses except that of smell.

Which is why it is very helpful to know what your dog was bred to do because it will explain a lot about their behaviour.

The other problem is that my dogs are far too friendly. When on the lead I have been trying to train them not to greet strangers by jumping up enthusiastically but to sit and wait for acknowledgement. Easy in theory but difficult in practice when you are restraining two very excited adolescents who think everybody and their dog wants to say hello and play.

Off lead they are positively embarrassing. Their overwhelming enthusiasm has sent one lady squealing in the opposite direction and an irate owner shooing my dogs away while they boisterously tried to persuade her little Fi-Fi to play.

They attach themselves to any party walking past, confident in the belief that they are welcome. And no amount of blowing on my red whistle until I am red in the face will change their minds.

I experienced first hand why it is so important to train your dog to react to a re-call. An electric fence surrounds our complex but every now and then our dogs stray too close and get a shock. When this happened to Jamie during a re-call training session, he was so dis-orientated that he ran all the way home and no amount of calling penetrated his dazed state. If this had happened in a public park he could have easily got lost or worse run over.

I am going to have to use mega treats to get them to respond when I venture out into public parks. I hope to gradually wean them off treats but off lead they are clearly not ready yet!

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