Socialisation – part 2: meeting a friend
This post is really about recall, but it’s also about socialisation. On my post two weeks ago about socialisation, I talked about training your dog to ignore other dogs, to be calm and not lunge or bark. I wanted to be able to stay relaxed and calm as other dogs walk past.
But life would be pretty boring if we never talked to anyone else! I definitely like seeing friends and I love walking my dogs with other people. So how would Quin react to meeting up with another puppy his age? And would he ever come back to me?
Meeting another dog
This morning I met up with a friend, who has a five-and-a-half-month-old Border Collie puppy. We had both pups on lead to start with and managed the distance between them and the way they said hello. It was interesting, because Quin immediately knew the puppy was a friend. He recognised his breed and the age of the other dog, not surprisingly. His behaviour was far more confident and he straight away asked if Isla would play with him.
When dogs meet, they ask to play with a ‘play bow’. This means ‘Hello, I’m friendly. I would like to play with you’. Your dog will do this to you, but you might not realise. Obviously they know you, so to you they are saying ‘you are my family and I love you. Now give me food/walk/play!’ It’s their way of saying ‘please’.
Off they go!
When we got to the field, we immediately let the puppies off lead. They can’t play together if they are on lead. It was so lovely to see that they ran around together straight away. They roared about, up and down, probably going a bit further than Quin would go from me.
Then they stopped. After just a few minutes they had a pause. Take a breath, then go! That is the ideal point to do a quick recall, to get them to check in with you.
Recall away from distractions
It’s very exciting, being around another dog! So much fun, being chased and chasing. So don’t expect a miracle? I bet if you call your other half, they aren’t there in a second, are they? What about your children, do they respond immediately when you call them? And if someone calls you and you are busy on your phone, do you say ‘Coming!’ but actually take a while to actually go?
Get a grip. Your puppy will not come back to you straight away. But IF you have done your training, practising that recall again and again, you will find that they DO come back to you, even when they are playing. Well, they will in a minute…
Don’t forget the reward. YOU MUST REWARD EVERY TIME! And be pleased to see them, even if it has taken longer than normal. Have good, tasty rewards. Grab their collar and stroke their neck and ears. Use a toy to engage them if you can.
Don’t keep calling
If you say your dog’s name, over and over again, it just becomes white noise. Blah, blah, blah. Boring. So try to just say clearly ‘Quin come’. Wait. Then wait a bit longer. Of course in a really distracting situation like this, it’s incredibly difficult not to keep on saying his name. Panic sets in! But patience is rewarded.
In the clip, you can see I call him and he turns to come. Then Isla runs past him and he decides that’s much more fun. But he does turn towards me and then does come over. I get his attention with an ‘Oi!’ rather than repeatedly calling. I laugh, because I am being realistic about how hard this is for him. He comes. I am thrilled! I am hopeless in this clip, but it is my first time with such a BIG distraction!
Don’t overdo, especially when they are still so young. We were out for around 20 minutes. They were off lead for around half that time. That’s it, it was enough to tire them out. And I wouldn’t want to do that every day. Now and again is fine. Lovely to have friends though. Thanks Ruth.
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.