So… recall training seems to be going fairly well. It certainly helps that when I let Oliver off the leash at the local golf course we’re the only ones around for what seems like miles. In addition to helping keep him focused, the solitude also adds to the peacefulness of our time spent walking together… time I’m learning to absolutely cherish. There aren’t too many people wandering out on the back nine at this time of year, and I’m already bummed about the thought of losing this place when the course opens later this spring. Luckily though, the winters here in Maine are long, so by my reckoning, we will have this perfectly-made-for-us walking track to ourselves – without golfers – for probably six months out of the year.
For the most part, Oliver will trot along right beside me as I walk down the middle of the fairway – a location it should be noted I am quite unfamiliar with when carrying my golf clubs. Every now and then he’ll spot or smell something yummy – especially pine cones and other things that look like pine cones but smell and taste like dog poopsicles – and he’ll hightail it away maybe 30-40 yards or so from me. Even when he wanders off though, he is constantly stealing glances back to make sure I’m still there, and when I call him to come back to me, he usually comes charging across the snowy ground at full speed to get his treat.
When we’re practicing our recall, I make sure to bring the good stuff with me… little bits of cheese, hot dogs, apples or chicken… the kid likes his food, so I want to make sure that he knows if he comes when called, he’ll be well rewarded… for now. The goal is obviously to wean him off the treats to where he comes without needing a reward (other than maybe a hug), but for now, treats are sparingly part of the plan. Nine times out of ten he comes when I call him… though it’s that tenth time when he’s preoccupied that I’m worried about most. When that super sensitive nose of his discovers something more interesting than me, of course that’s the type of situation where I need him to respond the most. We’re working on it though, and as you can see from the video below, he’s a real champ!