I am SO proud of Misty! She is now 6 months old. Some folks here know that I struggled for quite awhile trying to teach her a solid recall. I was getting pretty frustrated! I finally decided at one point to really make it a focus of our training -- and introduced a whistle into the trianing (along with a hand signal), to use as an alternative to the vocal "come" command.
She has learned to respond to the whistle command extremely well -- she is, knock on wood, about 98 to 99% on recall, using the whistle (though I haven't yet weaned her from being given a "cookie" for obedience to this particular command). Anyway, along with doing really well with recall, she is really becoming very good overall at obedience in general, in my opinion -- she is clearly moving (at least for now) into the "I want to please my momma and daddy" stage that everyone associates with labs (but which I saw very little of for the first few months).
Anyway, we were on an off-leash walk today through our neighborhood, and there were a few workers at a house under construction. Misty had wandered off the road, heading toward the workers (and the various piles of lunch left-overs which are invariably present at construction sites). I called her name, but she was too intent on meeting the workers and eating the left-over food to pay me much attention. So, I blew three quick blasts on the whistle, and, as usual, Misty turned and came running full speed up to my side. I didn't think much of it, since this is what she always does now. But, one of the workers yelled out to me "would you like to take my grandchildren for awhile?" Not getting his point yet, I said "Sure! Why?" He said "because I can't get them to obey that well..." Though this is just a small thing, it reminded me of how far Misty has come with her learning and obedience. I'm so proud of her!! ;D
Way to go, Misty! ;D Actually, six months is still very young to be reliable on off-leash recall, so keep your guard up. She is going to hit the 'teen years' where she's going to act like she's deaf to your voice and the whistle. Contiue praising her highly every time she comes to you to reinforce it.
My guard is definitely up. I know she'll "go deaf" at some point here shortly. We have already had one of those episodes of "going deaf," earlier on. That's what led to me changing my approach and introducing whistle and hand signals. Anyway, I am sure there are more "potholes" ahead -- which leads me to a couple of questions. First, when do these "teen years" which I have heard so many folks refer to, hit? What age? Also, with the praise -- I carry a small bag of her favorite treats, and give her one EACH time -- only for this particular command, since recall is so important and I do want to reinforce it as much as possible. However, how do I know when to lay off the "cookies?" I am sure that most folks don't carry cookies FOREVER, just to reinforce recall. However, I don't have any idea how, or when, to change the reward from the cookie, to an "attagirl" or whatever. Thoughts?