Chai’s distraction recall training – round 2.2: starting over with level 2 (barrier) at a different park

June 29, 2023

Since yesterday, we failed at off-leash recalls, I remembered: oops. I haven’t done barrier recalls in the real world, have I? No, I have not. So that’s what we did today. We went to our favorite toy play Plaza and started over there – with barriers in a difficult location that wasn’t the same one we had just failed in off leash. While we never did the barrier recall with our most difficult distraction that was still missing from our work on the roof of the apartment building, at least that was the only step we skipped: barrier levels at the park is what comes next according to my recall tracker! (There is a reason my recall distraction protocol follows the order it does: I’ve tried different variations with different dogs and found this order to be the most successful for most dogs.)

I’m titling this post “round 2.2” because I see it as my second stab (the first “2”) at distraction recalls, and I’m starting at level 2 (the barrier level, indicated by the “.2”).

Future me chiming in here from a bird’s eye view:

Steps we have already tested out of are indicated by a check mark, past steps I skipped are crossed out and steps I am tackling in this post have a green arrow in front of them. Future steps yet to be tackled have a square in front of them:

Empty plate behind a barrier at the plaza – success!

My reinforcer, as of yesterday, is a piece of chicken from my hand followed by an “okay” release to check out the distraction.

While Chai would certainly have liked to investigate the plate after my “okay” release, she DID it – a recall success, no doubt! Upwards and onwards: the intermediate distraction!

Paper bag behind a barrier at the plaza

This is more difficult! According to my recall protocol, we want a single-rep success at every distraction step. That means the very first rep of a session needs to be a turn on a dime. If it isn’t, the session continues until the dog is successful. Then, after a break of at least 15 minutes, we do another identical session – aiming for a single-rep success again.

In the video below, you’ll see 2 sessions: Chai isn’t successful on her first attempt. Therefore, our first session has 2 reps (the second rep is a turn on a dime). We then take a 15-minute break of park fun and repeat an identical session, getting a single-rep recall success in our second session! Achievement unlocked

Our most difficult distraction: kibble behind a barrier!

Wooohooo! Even though I had to change barriers and head to a different location in the same park – during our 15-minute between-sessions break, Chai didn’t only play in the fountain but also figure out how to get behind the first barrier – we are getting a single-rep success with distraction 3!

I can’t quite believe how well my puppy is doing and call a second time (going off the rails of my recall protocol, which calls for sessions to be ended as soon as you get a single-rep success) when Chai is looking right at the kibble, trying to get into the playground. She nails this second recall too and I’m convinced: my puppy has tested out of distraction #3 at the barrier level! Go Chai!!

Our reinforcer, by the way, is still chicken from my hand – and a “Get it” piece of chicken in the second rep in the video above – followed by a release to the barrier. I decided to not open the gate to the playground and give Chai direct access to the kibble at this point: look and smell yes, eat no.

Stay tuned to find out what I’ll try next …!

Urban art chase: I’ll run a second scavenger hunt – I just haven’t decided what piece of off-the-beaten-track CDMX art we’ll end with. But I already know I’ll make things more challenging – and potentially more fun – this time around by sending you all over the city!

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