So, little Brito has some recall issues. No great surprise; he’s seven months old and a pretty confident little guy. He has lots of interests and I’m only one of them.
There is a fairly common technique for teaching a dog to keep their eyes on you in public; the basic idea is simple. You take your dog for a walk. At some point, you hide behind a tree and let your dog figure out that they are alone and allow them to get a bit panicked. The idea is that after awhile, your dog should keep a closer eye on you and not wander as far. That’s the theory anyway.
And the reality? Well, here’s how it went for me…
I took Brito to a local school yard where I am very familar with the layout. First we played ball and ran and played together. All was well but after five minutes or so, Brito got “hooked’ by some smell on the other side of the football field and rather than coming back to me when I called, he took off to see the sights. I called once and he stopped to look at me. And then kept right on going in the opposite direction.
This was my chance.
Lickety split I zoomed behind a tree about fifty feet away and peeked out. Whew! He hadn’t seen me go, as he was engrossed with a nice, smelly plant. Oh boy….any second now he’ll turn around and see that I’m gone. So far, so good.
I watched quietly. After about a minute, I noted that he was still heading in the opposite direction. Not once had I noticed him look for me. Yet.
Another minute passed. Brito was becoming a relatively small dot in the distance and he was still heading in the wrong direction. I start to get a bit concerned. I know the layout of this school pretty well and he’s now heading in a direction where he could get himself into some trouble.
Oh crap – he’s heading for the creek. I leap out of my hiding spot towards the little white dot and just then….he realizes he’s alone. He looks around and doesn’t see me. I stop moving and sit on the ground to make myself less visible. Surely now he’s heading back? The training plan is still alive?
And then it happens; he’s running back to me!
But wait…he’s NOT heading back to me; he’s heading for a group of kids playing ball and eating snacks on the opposite corner. And while safe from the creek…oh no! They are sharing their snacks with him! They are playing ball with him! The parents are puzzled by the appearance of a puppy dragging a long leash but the kids are thrilled for a new playmate, and Brito is happy for the company, toys and food.
I am trying to hand signal across the entire field – DON’T FEED HIM. DON’T PLAY WITH HIM! IGNORE HIM! But none of my signs are making any sense at all, so they scoop up his leash and start walking him back to me, feeding and playing with him the whole while, yelling, “It’s ok; don’t worry! He’s fine! We’re bringing him back to you!”.
Meanwhile, Brito is in his element; he has found the three things that he loves dearly – food, toys and children. All in one place. What a lucky boy!
Maybe I misunderstood the method, but I thought the dog was supposed to be the one panicking and running. No one ever said anything about the human.
As my kids would say, “Epic fail”.
I’m glad they weren’t’ there to witness this event. They would have thought it was awfully funny. I’d be hearing about it for years.
No worries. I have a new plan…..