I was in Essex running errands and I decided to stop at my parents' house with Delilah and hang out with Mia. No one was home so I took them for a walk.
There I was, walking with two dogs (one of them insane), a bag of poop, and in the process of bending down and picking up another poop, when the clip to Delilah's harness broke and she took off sprinting down the street! Bewildered, I quickly inverted the poop bag and thought for a few seconds about what I should do. Delilah's crazy and has an incredibly high prey drive. She is also very independent and will become fixated on small things she sees, smells, or hears. I thought she was running off after a leaf or something blowing in the wind.
I dropped Mia's leash, and Mia, being the perfect dog that she is, just stood there and waited while I got up and started after Delilah. I called "Delilah, come!" She stopped and looked at me. I called again and she turned around and started sprinting in my direction! I was sooooo impressed and proud. Recall is not something we've been practicing during the winter- we hike a lot when it's warm out but the past few months have been too cold for Delilah to spend too much time outside. She had stopped and thought about what I was telling her, and then decided to listen!
I scooped her up and picked up Mia's leash (she had waited patiently the entire time) and we all went home.
The reason the lesson here is "always be prepared" is because that emergency recall is probably the number 1 most important thing that Delilah could know but I didn't have any treats or a toy to reinforce it! I gave her a lot of praise and carried her home but I don't think that was appropriate reinforcement for that behavior- especially considering the loss of her freedom and me grabbing her to pick her up may have actually been aversive! I really wish I had brought a high value reinforcer on that walk! There's always a training opportunity waiting to happen!
|Complementary picture of the girls from today (and an accurate portrayal of Mia's relationship with Delilah)|