Friday, 31 January 2014

And so the pips go on ..

Following on from my earlier 'Pip, pip, pipping' post a few days ago, Polly is now recalling to her whistle quite consistently inside the house but doesn't yet seem to understand why I bother blowing it when she's in the garden because after all, she'll come inside when she's good and ready (hmmn!) So, now I'm working on convincing her the whistle means 'COME HERE NOW POLLY, WHEREVER YOU ARE!!!'   I pip, pip, pip from inside, wait a few seconds to see if the penny drops, then quickly don garden clogs (a cheery pink, but according to my daughter, still socially unacceptable!) and when it doesn't, race outside to call 'Polly come, come, come', whilst waving my arms frantically.  It's not a dignified technique by any means and neighbours, if you happen to be reading, the crazy pink clog lady next door apologises for any disturbance ... 

Meanwhile, I have also been attempting to put Polly's retriever instinct to use as part of our on-going recall training.  She's enthusiastic about playing 'fetch' in the living room, so I began by throwing a toy, calling 'fetch', then giving her a treat and a fuss when she successfully brought her toy back to me.  Soon after that, I mixed it up a little by throwing the toy and calling 'come' before she reached it - this confused her a wee bit to start with, but she quickly cottoned on when she worked out she would still be awarded a treat for leaving the toy where it fell.  It wasn't long before it dawned on her the game was to listen carefully and differentiate between mum's instructions 'fetch' and 'come', then react appropriately.  Now Polly is 'fetching' and 'coming' when asked, I have added 'pip, pip, pipping' on the whistle to my verbal 'come' command and when I do that, she is turning before reaching her toy, racing back to me for a treat instead.  Hopefully, all this game playing and pip pipping will eventually help strengthen Polly's recall ... she certainly reacts quickly to the whistle when we are playing games, so fingers crossed!

Besides crazy games in the living room each evening, we also play 'fetch and come' at our local playing field, to encourage Polly to pay more attention and engage with me, rather than always chase away as soon as she's allowed off lead.  I can't yet say she would happily ignore other dogs in favour of our game, but having fun together like this when the field is quiet, does at least seem to be helping her to listen more attentively ... so far, so good!

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