Sunday, July 05, 2009

Big Air Anywhere

Woo needs no dock to get air!

Of course, to get this shot I had to shoot him out of a cannon. Don't worry, he's just a little singed, but hair grows back!

I asked Tweed if he wanted to go to MacDonald Beach, and he said:

So we went to MacDonald Beach. When we arrived, I asked him if he wanted to go swimming, and he said:

I asked Piper how she felt about me taking all these photos of Tweed, and she said:

And then look what washed up with the tide!!

Man, that cannon must have shot him real far!

We were also at MacDonald Beach to photograph two of our neighbours to the East. Banny and Liam came all the way from Edmonton, Alberta just to have a photo shoot done by Big Air Photography! Okay, maybe to visit their grandma as well, but I'm sure that was a secondary consideration ;-)

Banny is a lilac coloured border collie rescued from the Edmonton shelter, where he was dumped after being abused and starved. Now he's living the life of Riley, and just got his agility starters title.

Oh hai! Nice to meetz you.

He also has something called dilution alopecia which is something not terribly uncommon in dilute coloured dogs, ie, lilacs and blues. This is what happens when you breed for pretty colours instead of solid health and working ability. Of course, it doesn't make Mr. Banny any less fantabulous, just a little light in the coat.

Banny's brother Liam is one funny dude. He has a frisbee stuck to his face. Permanently.

Okay not really. Eventually we tackled him and got it back so that his photos wouldn't look like he has a very strange and lively growth on his face!

Banny and Liam have a special bond. A familiar bond. A very familiar-to-Woo-and-Piper bond.

So here's a question for you all, smart blog readers: what would YOU do about a dog who, as soon as you let him off the lead, takes off and stays out of catching distance, ignores his recall and puts on the afterburners when you go after him to get him?

No, I'm not talking about Woo!! (for a change). Wootie may pretend he suffers from a permanent case of "I can't hear you" but when I walk him down, he comes back in a hurry, or he sits down to await my arrival and takes it like a man. He actually does respond to his recall about 75% of the time on the first utterance.

Liam, OTOH, shoots off like a rocket the moment he is unleashed and dances out of grabby arm range for hours at a time. His mum is quite frustrated with him - she's had border collies for 35 years, and this is the first dog who will not come back when called that she has ever raised. Liam is very good at Rally-O and has lots of obedience training, but the word "come" sends him scuttling off in another direction. I know what I would do, but I would like to know what you would. So would his mum!

Because The Food Lady still is jobless, photo shoots are keeping her in grocery money at the moment, which is a blessing, because Mr. Woo eats a lot. So does The Food Lady. Earlier this week we went to Ladner and photographed a whole mess o'border collies.

Missus MoneyPenny:

And you're pointing your face-box at me WHY exactly?

Mr. Whoa (whoa) Bo!

Hey man. S'up.

And the Amazing Spinning Cracker Dog!

(Penny! What are you doing back there?!)

They are very graciously playing host family to Rhys, the DFKA Bear, who came to us from Alberta when he didn't get adopted from the shelter. And we are all mystified about why he didn't, because Rhys is practically perfect in every way, a la Mary Poppins - he is a small male, he has tons of drive to play ball, he has a geat off switch and in the house can usually be found ... in your lap, and he likes every other dog he has ever met, ever. There is not a single negative thing about this dog, period.

The very handsome Rhys:

Please pay attention to us now. The Wootie Toy is getting lonely.

Princess P is still doing fabulous after her two scary episodes, and played for 4 hours today without incident. This is a happy tired dog instead of a passing out dog!

The only one of us in danger of passing out is ME, because my agility teacher is a sadist.

And Tweed, despite the beatings and abuse I visit on my dogs on a regular basis (:eyeroll:) is his usual goofy self.

I think Tweed needs a mini-me, and I so desperately wish I could adopt this superduper puppy to make that happen:

This is a 12 week old border collie X Aussie puppy available through Ravensgate RFescue. Doesn't he look like he has a little milk moustache?? WANT!! I haz the worstest puppy cravings EVAR.

Alas, it was not meant to be :(

And finally, this is just a little plug for an awesome dog named Chance.

Chance is the dog I picked up in Princeton BC in February of this year, on an 8 hour road trip. He has been in rescue since then, and he has the worst adoption luck of any dog on the planet. First, nobody was interested in him at all. Then he got adopted by a marine mammal trainer who seemed to be completely perfect for him, but developed severe allergies to the poor guy and was forced to return him since he making it hard for her to breathe.

Then we got a really nice sounding application for him from a guy who first failed to show up for his meet'n'greet, and then turned out to not live where he said he lived and has since vanished. Who does stuff like that?

Anyway, Chance really wants his own home. He is such a neat, loyal, smart and fun dog and he doesn't deserve all this bad luck. Do you know anyone who wants an awesome friend like Chance?

Oh but one last piece of good news - Cinder got adopted this week!

OMG, would you shut up and stop blogging already?


shihtzustaff said...

Hey FL - can we borrow your cannon? I think that is the only way our Piper (the pug) is ever going to get 'big air!'

julie said...

I've been reading you for some time now, and your blog is just amazing! Your dogs rock - especially Mr. Woo :) - and your postings, awesome photos and the comments that go with them are terribly funny. You always succeed in bringing a smile on my face, at least one.
Too bad 3WAAW live on the other side of the world, because I would love to meet the gang and I adore your photographs.
Keep up the good work!

lor said...

I'll be checking back to see if someone has a good answer about the recall thing. I've got a lab/border collie (we think) mix with the same issue. Perfect recall in a fenced area, no matter how large, but given the opportunity to free range....sigh.

Anne said...

Our border collie loved to chase birds and telling him "come" was no incentive to quit. There were two things that did work. One was teaching him the "drop on recall" which we learned in obedience. Yelling out "down" to him seemed to get his attention better than "come" and it took his focus off of birds for a few seconds.

The other thing that our behaviorist/trainer taught us was to run away from the dog screaming like you are being chased by a bear. This would catch the dogs attention and he would then switch his focus to following you instead of you chasing after him which he views as really fun.

Neither thing is fool-proof, but they did work on occasion for us.

riosmom said...

I am sorry you are still unemployed but love the pictures that are the result of your free time.

What I would do with Liam is probably what you will say Liam's mum has already done but I would go back to basics. He would be on a long line until he had whiplash recalls and every such recall would get a jackpot of whatever he values most, be it food or his frisbee. If that didn't work, there is always abandonment - he doesn't come, his mum disappears. This requires setup, of course - a safe place and someone to watch him when his mum disappears. Last choice would be an e-collar which I have never used - and never would - but I know R+ trainers who have resorted to them with success and without frying the dog.

Now, are you going to tell us what you would do?

Anonymous said...

I had resistance to the 'come' word and had to change the word I used. It can be any word of course - dogs don't know the difference - I changed it to 'Ici' (french for 'here') and added a hand signal. Started in the backyard with minimal distractions and built from there adding a long line. Also used it to bring the dog in hold collar, give treat and release dog to play again - not strictly for leaving fun zone. Also use it to bring dog in to me to do a few spins, touches etc for reward and then verbally release the dog to play again.
Have u noticed how Tiger's eyes follow you from the photo? hee hee

Buzz's Food Lady said...

Hey ya!

Buzz's recall improved a lot when I introduced a "too far" command. Lots of time, I just need him within a 50 yard range, so being able to call him closer without calling him to me saves us from wearing out the recall command unnecessarily.

Hornblower said...

for the recall, I think the logical thing would be:

-totally new word &/or a whistle
-and the Really Reliable Recall dvd by Leslie Nelson (she trained afghan hounds to come back for pete's sake!), the principle of which is that the command becomes so strongly conditioned that they turn to run to you before they've thought about it. Takes MONTHS to train it.

And no offleash games until recall is hitting >80% reliability. Every time they get to play keep away, it wrecks the training.

Ask me later how that is working - says the owner of the "bye bye, I see a bird & you'll never catch me" English Setter & the "I heard you but I'm ignoring you because I have to do this first" malamute X.

Tammy said...

Hey, do you have a place to purchase photos, like Etsy? I love that last photo of Woo and would buy one. His expression is priceless. I checked out Big Air Photo, but don't see a purchase portal. :-)

nickelsmum said...

Wouldja stop shooting your dogs out of the cannon? I may need to report you to the SPCA for all this repeated dog abuse.

I want MoneyPenny.

Zoom said...

Hornblower and Anon. said what I was going to. Change the command word and go back to working on a long line until the command. I had a dog who had been taught a force-recall i.e. at 6 months a trainer slapped a shock collar on her and zapped away to try and get three weeks worth of training crammed into one. The poor dog would freeze and hit the ground when she heard "come" but just changing the recall to "here!" and a handful of liver treats each time, et voila, awesome recall!

BCxFour said...

I had the same problem with Beth when we first adopted her. 'Come' was a dirty word and meant 'cower and look for place to hide'. While she would never leave eyesight she wouldnt come within arms reach & I could not get a leash on her. She does not respond well to pressure - a sad by product of the intense drug detection training program she washed out of.

I changed 'come' to 'here'. When I first changed the command I did it in the back yard with her alone, and sat down before I said it. This made me less intimidating to her, I think, and raised her curiosity. When she came to me I made a big gushy deal out of her being there with a high value treat, kisses and praise. Then I changed it up...I said "here" and immediately began to run/walk in the other direction being goofy. When she came to me I would pat her, ruffle her scruff by her collar, then toss the ball - so she got that type of reward for coming. I refused to throw the ball unless she brought it to my feet. I made sure that she never knew what I was going to do when she came. Was it going to be lovin time, play time, ball time, leash time, treat time? Who knows!

In addition to verbal 'here' when she is close - I will use a whistle for when she is further away. Now she comes 'here' each and every time.

BTW I absolutely ADORE that first picture of Woo!

riosmom said...

Just a thought from our trip to the beach this morning with Gracie, my Aussie, and a friend and her two Aussies. My friend has been working on her younger dog's recall and, now that it has become quite good, it has also become a competition between Gracie and Zeb. If either dog is called, both dogs race full tilt back to us, i.e., their recall has become *fun*. Since there are two dogs in the family, can Liam's mum find a way to make the recall a rewardable game?

Barbara said...

I was thinking along others same lines.

1. Change the word from come to something else.

2. Reward like hell. Lots of really, really, really good treats. Steak, liver, what the dog really wants.

3. Start without going off leash, but let the dog get distracted. Once the dog is moving away smelling the tree or whatever, call her name, use the new word and treat like hell when the dog gets back to the person. I would't let the dog wander far the first few times. As soon as the dog looks away. Do that several times over several days.

4. In a fenced yard, you can try this off leash.

5. As you are treating the dog, put the leash back on. Repeat steps 4 and 5.

6. You might want to try this in an unfenced place, but use 2 leashes, one very light so that you know you can get your dog back.

Points to remember. ALWAYS treat the dog for coming. The more you use high value treats, the better. If you are in a situation, where you don't have treats or not the best, make sure you praise and give extra lower value treats.


Barbara & the Bedlams Pack

Sweet~Ceana said...

Hmmm... Liam's recall sounds a bit like Ceana's previous recall skills. We first made her sit before every frisbee throw. Then we would inch closer and closer to her before each throw. Now we can grab her collar while holding up the frisbee. It isn't perfect, but it worked until she got older and decided that she didn't want to run free any more.

Amy said...

One other thing; once the recall has been retrained, be **sure** to call, catch, reward and release the dog multiple times a play session. Biggest mistake the people at the dog park I frequented my year in FL was only calling the dog when the fun was about it end.

Anonymous said...

I use the call the dog once and then run like h@ll away from him method myself. Sometimes, it takes a long run.

Also, lots of random out of the blue say the dog's name and toss a treat or toy.

Abandonment, also (in a safe place). Hide and seek, is another one (I hide).

Basically, the same stuff everybody else suggests, but LOTS of it, lots of practice, lots of self-discipline to only call the dog once. If he didn't come the first time, he ain't coming the twelth time. (Remember one definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over [like call your recall-challenged dog] and expect different results)

I try to make the recall a brief opportunity for the dog, rather than an obedience exercise.

Companion Animal Solutions said...

So many people have given such great advice on fixing the recall, that I will only comment to say that I MUST HAVE Rhys!! I have fallen madly in love. He's adorable and must live with my Aussie boys. May I please borrow your cannon? I'd like to use it with Conner and Flynn.

Anonymous said...

See? Woo CAN fly!!! My faith in the universe has been restored. Thank you!

I LOVE Tweed's expressions - you capture him (and all the dogs) in such a way that I feel I know them. Your poor dogs must get inundated all the time with whacked out strangers running up on the beach screaming "Mr. Woo! Mr. Woo!! OMG - it's Tweed. C'm'ere snookums...c'mon Piper..." And your poor dogs looking at the people in befuddlement and possibly alarm.

Sorry. Couldn't resist. I've been trapped at home for 26 days and things are starting to come unhinged in my little mind.

The recall thing. Hmmm...I agree with everything everyone has already said. I would second the "hand in collar just to come in and get treated and then go play again." That's huge. Changing the word a biggie. A long line would also be in my bag of tricks. And I also have a "too far" command that has worked really well.

As someone who had 3 hybrids, I know how frustrating recall (or lack of one!) can be. Lupa would look at me, look at the dead seal, look at me, look at the dead seal....guess what ALWAYS won? She got lots of baths.

Anonymous said...

Wot a wonderful Q to put to your fans. I intend to try some/all of the ideas until one works. I wonder what Food Lady would do?

Alphamutt said...

"I had to shoot him out of a cannon. Don't worry, he's just a little singed, but hair grows back!'

one of your little troll readers is going to take this seriously and report you to you SPCA, Food Lady.

Anonymous said...

Disclaimer- this is not a solution, but a bandaid: I need to work more with one of my 2 rescue BC's on recall, but since he's a reactive greeter of other dogs, for the twice a day everyday necessary airing out and frolicking in the local parks, he's on a lunge line while the recallable friendly one is off-leash.

Anonymous said...

Long line and change the recall command to something other than "come". The Really Reliable Recall by Leslie Nelson is good too.

Arwen said...

I love Tweed's head-tilt 'baroo?' photos. So cute :-)

My first thought for the recall problem is 'food!' but that only works if the dog is food motivated - plus it seems obvious enough that I assume it's already been tried...

rec3 said...

Everybody's pretty much covered any suggestions I would have had for training recall, so let me add in a question of my own, if I may. How do you work on recall training with a dog who *was* at about 70-80% reliability before going deaf? She can still make out the hand signals for "sit" and "down" and so on, but if she's not pretty nearby she has a hard time with the one for "come." (We're sure it's hearing loss rather than old-age-induced disobedience because she can no longer hear "cookie," which she used to respond to from three rooms away.)

Cathy said...

Just to add my two cents on all the good recall suggestions: To me the key is building a good retrieve and a good motivator (preferably a tug).Food isn't a strong enough reward for most border collies. Tear a page out of the flyball trainers manual.

riosmom said...

To rec3 - there are electronic collars which give different kind of pulses that can be associated with commands. Google deaf dogs and there are lots of sites. Here is a link to a site with the vibrating collar.

FL, I wonder if this would work for Liam. Pair a given vibration with a really high value reward and turn it into a recall.

Anonymous said...

My three additions to the recall thing. I believe from the book "The Other End of the Leash" she would suggest say the dogs name(check in), no(stop what you are doing), dogs name and the come here command. So, it would be Beep No, Beep Come.

The other thing is a nose to palm hand touch. Another game to play when you're working on a recall that isn't catch you and put a leash on you.

When on a long line, if he doesn't respond, turn and do the silly run away game(don't yank him off his feet:). Don't just stand there and reel them in.

As always... great pictures and captions!

Donna said...

Unrelated, but do any other Vancouverites think that the Food Lady should post her park schedule so they can see the Dog Cannon themselves? :)

Anonymous said...

The "hide from sight" can be accomplished by dropping to the ground. Depending on the dog, roll and kick and flail like you just found a dead stinky thing and are just loving the hell out of it, or lay quietly and wait for them to come looking. Lots of loves, treats, or retrieves depending on the dog.

The book Control Unleashed may help teach this command. And there's "cheeseball recalls" in When Pigs Fly! Drop a cheeseball or other good sized, easily seen treat right in front of the dog. As they're eating, run away. When they catch up, give them a cheeseball. Soon you'll be tossing the cheeseball one way and running the other so that they're not right on top of you.

With Duncan, I finally got a reeeeeally solid recall with an AirKong. I'd show him the Kong and yell his name in my "let's PLAY!" voice. He had to come all the way back, sit down, and then I'd throw it for him. Since he likes me to grab the tail and play tug with him, I'd say "come!" as he was running back, then we'd wrestle over the toy.

I've also used an electronic collar to proof a recall with hunting dogs- after yardwork, long line work, and some in-a-fenced-yard offleash work- this is not a first line of training. I use it as negative reinforcement: I start the stim (lowest possible level to get a response) then say the name and call the dog. If they look at me, I stop the stim. Soon they're headed for you. Stim anytime they head away after the "come" command, and you'll soon have a near bomb proof recall, if your foundation training was solid. All of our dogs look forward to wearing the ecollar, because it means they're going to get time outside- just like other dogs look at leashes with joy. Ecollars are not tools for everyone, but they can be a very useful tool.

Ali said...

I had to check out your site because I think I have a border collie on my hands--she showed up last week. You have beautiful dogs!

erin said...

Donna said: Unrelated, but do any other Vancouverites think that the Food Lady should post her park schedule so they can see the Dog Cannon themselves? :)

I say hell yes! I go to Trout Lake but I have yet to see the cannon launching these dogs off the dock.