“Oh, honey. […] The world is over. Who cares how fast you go!”
(Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin)
June 28, 2023: Fresa Parque off leash distraction recalls and skipping 10 steps
I confidently went to Fresa Parque in order to tackle level 3 (off leash) distraction recalls. Yep, you read that right: I haven’t worked on level 3 recalls either in the house or on the roof – Chai’s easy and difficult environments. I haven’t even worked on a protected difficult distraction on the roof yet! Future me made a table showing the 10 steps I am about to skip and the 3 most difficult steps I am about to tackle (check mark: achievement unlocked; strike-through text: skipped; green arrow: about to take a stab at in this post):
This first video shows the easiest distraction – our good old empty plate. Chai was a good sport and recalled away from it. I did two recalls rather than just one because she didn’t look like she knew the plate was even there … and then we danced! (Because what else are you gonna do when Gretchen Felker-Martin informs you that the world is over!)
Empty plate, off leash, park
Paper bag, off leash, park
Next, we tackled distraction #2: the intermediate one, our paper bag. This time, Chai clearly saw it. She beelined towards it and came right back when I called. Good puppy!
As confident as can be, I did the next obvious thing: set up distraction #3. KIBBLE! Our most difficult distraction! For the very first time, a completely unprotected edible distraction – several distractin protocol steps before it was time for a challenge of this magnitude.
Kibble, off leash, park
What do you think happened?
Chai knows this is an edible distraction, and she knows it is unprotected. She does the sensible thing and eats it. What else would one smart, pragmatic Border Collie do?!
Silver lining: you see her hesitate ever-so-slightly when I call. The recall response is almost on auto-pilot, that’s why. Then, her conscious decision to of course eat what is right in front of her wins and she goes for the kibble.
Kibble – second attempt
What would gone-rogue me do next?
I decided it would be a good idea to repeat the distraction – this surely was a one-off error! I’d just call earlier next time and all would be well.
You are seeing me have an extinction burst here: Chai has given me SO much confidence in her distraction recalls that I trust my reinforcer (Chai coming back) is going to happen again. Of course it is!
(Or is it? Let’s find out!)
Kibble – third attempt
The conclusion extinction-burst me draws in the video above is not one I would draw if I was looking at my tracker, away from the park and back at the drawing board. But I was still surfing the wave of extinction and trusted that I’d get a beautiful recall if I only reinforced once before releasing Chai to the kibble. She had simply let me know that found food was better than “Get it” chicken. Who knew I am such an optimist! (I had enough brain cells switched on to realize that ignoring my marker cue (Get it) and going for the distraction instead did not count as success even though Chai responded to the original recall.)
Third time’s a charm? Let’s find out …
Surprise: third time’s NOT a charm. What I believe happened here is that the second repetition reminded Chai that there was unprotected food available – so she went for it again in the third one. Clever Border Collie, outsmarting your human like this after building up his confidence!
One NICE thing the video above shows is that it’s no big deal if your dog gets the distraction. I know that, so I don’t worry about it. Laugh it off if something doesn’t go as planned and go back to the drawing board! It’s a game! We’ll just keep playing.
Tip for my Calling All Dogs students: do what I say, not what I do! Print out your distraction trackers, have them somewhere you can see them, check off squares and, most importantly, have a look at them every time before you do a recall training session! It might have been able to resist my cunning puppy’s master plan if I had followed my own advice!
Urban art clue #7: You should, if you want to, have found the blue fence and know which side of it the art piece is on. You now have two options: either you keep looking on that side until you find the art piece …
or you make finding it a bit easier and scroll down for your last-but-one clue:
the art piece is at (my) shoulder hight at the outside wall of the building.
Also, I verified something: this piece of urban art has got to be by the same artist as the original one I posted (without the blue spraypaint behind), but it is not, in fact, the same piece. The first picture I shared is very close and on the same building, but has been boarded off. Urban art is ephemeral!