A day in the life of a dog trainer
The ultimate recall class
Monday, 5 December 2016
I love my job. It isn’t an easy job but overall I love it. But nothing ever goes to plan, like the saying “Never work with children or animals” you never quite know what to expect.
We started running a master class in Recall a few weeks ago. The aim of this course is to teach dogs to come when called, even when there is something else the dog would rather be doing.
Week 1, one of the dogs came into season. Luckily we had access to two fields, so the dog in season was placed in the other field to make sure she wouldn’t end up with puppies! In that same class, we had an uncastrated male. Boy, he knew there was something really exciting in the other field and really wanted to go and say “Hello” to her.
We could have decided to cancel the course for the dog in heat, but we turned it to our advantage and decided to bring this into our training plan after careful consideration. Both fields are secure and no other dogs can get in or out. None of the male dogs was getting frustrated, but were interested.
On the second week, another of the girl dogs came into heat! Oh boy! We had two females in heat sharing a field and the other 4 dogs in a separate field but we were working together using the fences as dividers and still assessing for safety, making sure nobody was getting frustrated and no signs of competition developing.
We were running two recall classes back to back and the dogs on heat were in the first class. In the second class, there was another intact male (a Shih Tzu). He wouldn't even look at his mum in the first and second weeks because he was soooo excited just to be there, not helped by the remnants of the smell of the females, even though by then, the in-heat dogs had left the field.
Where else could you get the opportunity to practice the ultimate recall? To recall highly interested, sexually intact male dogs away from in heat females. Of course, making sure they could not meet was vitally important. I don’t recommend this if you are not sure what you are doing!
Today was the last session of the three-week course. The two females are still on heat, one of them is at peak fertility. All dogs were recalling using the new techniques they had all been learning. Even the two intact males recalled to perfection! I love my job. Take a look at these videos.
Male intact Rhodesian Ridgeback. In the field to the left and behind the fence, just out of camera shot, there are two female dogs that are in heat. See the Ridgeback’s body language as his head goes down to sniff and then up to orientate where she is. His mum whistled him and he immediately recalled! Not just once, but several times. Great job done by his owner!
Male intact Shih Tzu. In week 1, he was so excited to be in the field he really didn’t want to pay mum any attention. He was very interested in investigating the delicious scent coming from the next field, where an in heat dog had been in the class before. This week, I almost could not believe how well he recalled. Time after time he came to his mum when she called him, despite being close to other dogs and being surrounded by the scent of in heat dogs! Great job done by his owner.
Look what you can achieve if you practice. I never thought we would have the opportunity to practise recalling intact male dogs from females in heat! Just goes to show, it can be done!
Well done to everyone who attended this course. You all did amazingly. Keep up the good work.
A trained dog is a happy dog!
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Denise is a qualified and experienced full time dog behaviourist and trainer. She holds a B.Sc (Hons) in Applied Animal Behaviour and also an advanced diploma in companion animal behaviour and training, DipCABT (Coape).
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Getting a dog or puppy is a huge decision and there is a lot to consider from how to choose your breeder, to how to decide which puppy will be most suitable for you all the way to being able to choose a dog sitter or groomer.
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Denise deals with any behaviour problem, especially aggression and anxiety. Many behaviour problems can be caused by medical conditions which is why she must work on vet referral.