I always wanted one of those “bomb-proof” dogs. You know the ones I mean, that are perfectly behaved, come every time you call, or stay while you walk a mile away. Maybe you have one of those dogs! I never have. I wanted Luke to be that dog, and he certainly has the potential, if only I were a more consistent trainer.
Back when we had four dogs in the household, three puppies at the same time, my excuse was that training that many dogs was just too much! They weren’t bad dogs though, just a bit more independent. For us, that meant just having a big fenced-in yard for most of their exercise, and walking only one or two dogs at a time.
What I’ve found with Luke is that it wasn’t the time factor so much for me, it’s just that I’m an inconsistent dog trainer. I try, I really do, but sometimes I just lose interest in the repetitiveness of it all.
I mentioned a while ago that Luke and were taking an online class in recall and working on a new cue. I found a fun word to use:
I wanted something different, we had already used “come” and “here”, and those work a lot of the time. I’m not sure if I’m dating myself here, with the reference to the Speedy Gonzales cartoon. Speedy was “the fastest mouse in all Mexico” and his catch phrase was “Arriba, arriba, ándale, ándale!”. That loosely translates to “Get up! Let’s go!”. I often call Luke “Speedy G” when he’s pulling me when we’re out on a walk. “Slow down, Speedy G!” is my catch phrase, so I thought using ándale was perfect, after one of our readers had suggested using a foreign word when I was searching for the right one when starting our online recall class.
I wanted a new cue that was 100%, that would work even when Luke was distracted with his nose to the ground or nervous about something going on around him. In the end, we ended up with yet another cue that works MOST of the time, because I never followed through with the whole class we took. But I’ve learned enough along the way, that I at least won’t ruin this one by repeating it too much when he doesn’t respond. If he doesn’t, I either use a different word or just go get him. We do still work on this cue to keep reinforcing it, just not formally. I use it and reward him when we’re on walks mostly, or if he responds to it around the house.
The “Calling All Dogs” course we took through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, which I highly recommend, was excellent. We got to play some fun games as reinforcement, it was just that somewhere along the way I got more interested in doing other things, like working around the farm. Training doesn’t have to take long, just a few minutes per day, but I think I was just bored with it!
I’ve learned in my later years of life that I’m tired of fighting who I am and trying to change too much. As long as everyone is happy, healthy, and we’re getting along OK, then I say that’s good enough. I’m never going to be an intense dog trainer and I’m OK with that.
To an extent, Luke has taught me that as well. Luke has his quirks and issues, and we’ve learned to accept who he is and work around it. If he is safe and happy, then we are all content. The other day I was on a work phone call, and my cell phone only works at the front of the house by the road. On nice days I just go right outside for the best reception. I realized I needed to write something down and when I went in the house to do so, I accidentally left the front door open.
I panicked when I realized it and ran back to the door to see Luke outside. I called him back – don’t ask me which cue I used – and he immediately came right back into the house. So, maybe not bomb-proof, but pretty darn good, I’d say.
The wonderful thing about taking online classes at Fenzi for me is that not only can you do them at your own pace (if you “audit” it basically, which is the least expensive option), but as long as you take one course per year, you always have access to a library of all the classes you’ve taken. I can go back to any of them any time and pick up where I left off.
Maybe I’ll want to do that this late fall and winter when there’s not much to do on the farm. More likely though, I’ll probably take a different class, but this time we’ll do something more fun.
Luke has the obedient, people-pleasing characteristics of the Labrador retriever in his genes, he’s smart as a whip, but he also has the nose of a hound dog that makes up a smaller part of his genetic profile. His nose is amazing, and we’ve taken the beginner nose works class which we both loved. I’ve wanted to try tracking with him too, and I think that will be next on the agenda. On our recent walk Sunday, we were walking through the area where the Dadz had been cutting trees, and Luke went immediately to a glove hubby had dropped on the ground. I could even see him being a search and rescue dog if both of our personalities were different.
The one thing Luke enjoys most about our walks is getting to smell things. If the scents aren’t there, I think he gets bored sometimes. Lately he hasn’t wanted to go on any of the further trails we’ve finally been able to walk on. I’m not sure if it’s boredom, something making him nervous, or the heat and humidity (even though we walk fairly early in the morning). Either way, walks are for his exercise and enjoyment, so I’ll try to get him to go a certain way, but if he plants himself, then we turn around. It frustrates me, but there again I want Luke to be himself and happy. A new sport might be just what he needs. He may very well be just as bored with obedience training as I am! On the other hand, I wonder as I write this if he didn’t enjoy the training things we were doing when walking. It’s something to think about, and at the least, working on reinforcing cues while walking might be more interesting for both of us.
I’ll probably never have that 100% perfectly trained dog. I can accept that, to an extent I’d rather just let a dog be a dog anyway. I may not be the perfect trainer either, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still work at it – we just like to do it at our own pace.
I can understand your situation as my dog does not like training and I sometimes feel tired of training too, hence, I can not do the training consistently.
I honestly don’t think I have the patience required to be a good dog trainer!
Jodi Stone says
I can’t offer advice because I too, am an inconsistent trainer. I think training should be fun and if you or your dog are bored or frustrated with training, don’t do it. I think finding the unique key word for your commands is key. When I was trying to train for a recall I couldn’t remember did I use come or here? I found using a unique word for the command makes it much easier for me and it also makes me more consistent. 🙂 it looks like Luke gets it.
Yeah, talk about forgetting your words – I can’t remember the last time I used “andale” – LOL. I went back to using “here” most of the time, which does still work. Good thing Luke is smarter than I am!
Ducky's Mom says
Well, Jan, since I’m older than you are, I remember Speedy quite well! I loved all those silly cartoons from my childhood! ¡Andalé! is a great recall cue! Taking a break from training and exercise is not a bad thing, despite what some trainers say. Those of us who prefer to build a good relationship with our animals know that. Just like us, our dogs – and other companions – have “off” days and there’s no need to push them into training when they’re not up to it. You have a great relationship with Luke, and that’s the important thing. ❤️💙
Thank you SO much for your support, Sue! ♥
Groovy Goldendoodles says
Alas you’ve inspired me! I shall try again and this time be more patient and consistent. Like everybody else who commented – I may need to use the word Andale also – if you don’t mind. Great post – I enjoyed it!
Please do use it! But your boys seem very well trained to me, and all you do with them is wonderful. ♥
Melissa K. Clinton says
I used to love Speedy Gonzales! I am a horrible dog trainer. My boys are happy, healthy, and love their lives so I am a successful dog parent. I’m too old to change that too! Hahaha!
You are so right, Melissa….if our dogs are happy ad healthy then we are successful. ♥
I love the idea of Andale for your emergency recall. Can I borrow that? My husband has totally killed “come.” He uses it to mean get in the cockpit, lie down under the table, and jump off the boat. Honey is very confused.
And yes, the goal of training is for Luke to be comfortable living the life you need him to live. Sounds like you’re doing great.
Thanks for keeping it real.
Thank you, Pamela! I would love if you borrowed our cue! My hubby doesn’t get involved much in training, I constantly have to remind him of what to say….so I totally understand!
The Island Cats says
Sometimes good enough…is good enough. 🙂
joann stancer says
What a fun cue word, I wonder really if there is a 100% trained dog. You do what you can and keep at it. Keep up the good work. I know my dogs all have issues I would like to change with the next one and then that never happens.
I think if we have goals we work towards, but can accept that we might not achieve them with each dog, that can be a good thing!
Bell Fur Zoo says
Oh yes Mama remembers Speedy Gonzales and it sometimes still comes on cartoon network or boomerrang which we usually has playing in da background most days.
I knew a lot of basic commands when I roamed up to da pawrents house buts I has gotten real good at stay..well unless there is a stray kitty cat in da yard or a duck then I have to muster up all of my strength to listen and not go after it 😉 I am glad ya’ll are hasen fun training. I fink dat are da biggest fing is to have fun doing it and hope some of it sinks in.
Matt (& Matilda)
You are so right about that, Matt! It’s the fun that is the most important thing.
We bet you do far better than you think. We get locked in that spiral of there always being more to work on – but sometimes the trick is enjoying and being happy with good enough.
You are right about that, thank you.
We had a very well trained dog, but we didn’t mind his “imperfections”. It made him an individual and reminded us that we needed to adapt ourselves and our expectations to his needs. I often think people who try to have perfectly trained non-working dogs have personal issues that need to be addressed, i.e. they’re trying to be in control of another living being just for the sake of exerting control. As long as everyone is well mannered and safe, just enjoy life.
I think you are very right about that. I never used to like to train tricks either, because I felt like it was just the human trying to show off what their dog could do. But if Luke enjoys learning them, then I do like to train things – but only now to build his confidence, or for things we need or that he enjoys. We do need to remember that dogs are individuals and not just here to satisfy our human needs. It works both ways!
Ellen Pilch says
I remember Speedy Gonzales 🙂 I agree, as long as everyone is happy then Luke doesn’t need to be perfectly trained.
Thank you, Ellen! ♥
We know a lot of people who train with Fenzi online. Mom hates videos and all that back and forth chat stuff, so she has to have a real teacher or forget it. The main thing with obedience, unless you are competing in it, is that the dog does what you need it to do. Forget what super dogs do. As long as Luke does what you need, why want more? Mom says obedience is overrated, but then again we are all free spirits, including Mom.
I think your Mom is very right about obedience. Do what is necessary and why do the rest if it’s not needed? I am a free spirit in a way too, which is why I can’t be tied down to showing up at classes at a scheduled time each week! But the structure can be good too, I just can’t deal with all that. 🙂
Susan from Bucks County Pennsylvania says
Good boy Luke!! I sure do remember Speedy Gonzales!
Thank you! We are glad others remember Speedy!
Molly the AireGirl says
I think that you and your mom are doing a great job at recall, Luke! We loved the video and we love your choice of words – andale!
Thank you so much, Molly!!
Then there is the treat. That always helps. You know I think Luke is the best. Just saying.
Have a woof woof day and week, Luke. My best to your mom. ♥
Oh, Luke is all about the treats, so that definitely helps! 🙂
Monika, Sam & Elsa says
I love it!
Brian Frum says
Oh Luke, you done good coming back when you needed to and you and your Mom really are doing a great job with the training!
He really is a very good boy – sometimes he has to be reminded, but in the end he seems to come through. 🙂 ♥
LLB in Our Backyard says
Great post! I am a big believer in the important training cues…drop it, good recall, and as I get older…no leash pulling. Everything else is just gravy!
The leash pulling is the toughest, but more important as we get older – we can’t take all that wear and tear on our elbows and shoulders! 🙂