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Discussion Starter #1
Second smartest dog, loving, focused, learns fast, up for anything... sounds like a dream to train, right?

Annie had definitely been the most challenging dog I have ever trained despite all that - I just figured out why.

Instead of training a dog where food is the highest motivator, I am training a dog where fun and doing stuff is the highest motivator...

I was with my dad this weekend. We had his corgi off leash, he wanted to end the play session, so he whistled her back. She came running, received a hot dog piece, hung around looking for more, and cheerfully went inside for another hot dog piece. Annie came running when he whistled, spit out the hot dog (cheap hot dogs, she is picky), and darted away to keep running, looking incredulously at the corgi who was still hanging around.

I bit my tongue and thought to myself - oh, he should never end fun with a recall! He will ruin it. And then I realized for his dog - the food was way better than any fun she had been having before. Annie would happily turn down a raw steak for the chance for a walk.

And that, to me, is the difference between training my smart poodle and any other dog I have had before.

I train Annie by being more fun than the alternative, and knowing she hates playing alone, and controlling and providing her options for fun. Would be way easier if a hot dog was her definition of more fun anywhere except for in a boring environment!
 

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I just practiced her recall from a yummy item.. she was outside munching happily on a beef brisket bone. I wanted her inside, she had eaten enough bone. So I called her, leash in hand. She looked at the bone, looked at me, remembered that bones arent allowed on walks or in the house, and we went for a lovely wander of the yard. Came in through the other door and I went and put the bone back in the freezer for tomorrow. I rarely take a bone away from her; usually if I am touching her bone it is to hold it so she can chew it better! If I want her to drop something she picked up on a walk, i usually just start being more interesting - running, jumping, etc. No need to touch the icky dead bird or whatever she had found usually.

There are advantages to a dog that prefers fun over food!
 

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Annie came running when he whistled, spit out the hot dog (cheap hot dogs, she is picky), and darted away to keep running, looking incredulously at the corgi who was still hanging around.
This made me lol.

Peggy is fairly food motivated (if the food is cheese), but I'll say this: Poodles don't seem to have that blind instinct sort of dog brain. I can see Peggy weighing her options in real-time. It's actually quite extraordinary.
 

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Misha's the same way. He has a great recall most of the time but sometimes I see him turn, look at me, then get this giddy little wiggle and go back to what he was doing. Usually trying to go home with some cute little female chihuahua or maltese. Sometimes he really shows his teenager brain. I also try to never make the fun stop for recalls. I use a super high value treat and sometimes I'll ask him to wait with me while a car or biker passes, but only for 10 seconds or so and then he's off. When we need to go home I also pull the trick of putting the leash on and letting it drag for a few minutes before actually picking it up to leave.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
One of the things I find most challenging to proof is off leash recall. She knows what I want - but the opportunity to run is SO enticing.

Tonight, we took an impromptu trip to the local cemetary. I did a 20s down stay about 30 ft away. Returned, treated, hid behind a tree, then called. Flying recall, treat, then some run jumpy play.

Went and did another down stay in another location. 60s. Called immediately. Flying recall.... right past me towards the section we used to do off leash running in during COVId. Then she stood, grinned, and looked at me, then the gap in the fence. Me, the gap in the fence. I stalked away in the other direction, hid behind a maple tree (one of her favourite games is hide and seek). She ran to me, I grabbed her leash, gave her a treat them we did more running/jumping play.

I really hate how much I have worked on recall, and how unreliable it still is.
 

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My worst recall fails were trying to get Buck inside the house. Someone wise to poodles, said “They can smell desperation a mile away.” They really can pick up on emotions, so you have to regulate yourself too. Those times were always about DH or me having to go someplace, right now. I can see him laughing and dancing away. He was brilliant with Ian Dunbar’s technique of recall check ins, treat and praise and not associating it with the end of fun. One whiff of desperation, blew that record up.
 

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I have found it so interesting in training Bobby. He’s smart, smart, smart like poodles are but we definitely have areas where he is too smart for us!😂
We heels like a champ, is great in his obedience class and knows so many words and on and on...he is terrible at recall when there are heavy distractions and he is a counter surfer extraordinaire! He’s had too much success with counter surfing unfortunately and his timing is beyond amazing. It’s almost laughable! That’s why he’s so good at it...he’s too smart for us !!! We just keep things off the counter the best we can and work hard at being preemptive. He’s amazing at reading body language when we are in the kitchen. He definitely thinks through stuff and his wheels are always turning. It’s like training him is easy yet hard, unlike any dog we’ve ever had. He reads our emotions big time which is so amazing actually. Keeps us on our toes!😉 It’s been a real learning experience getting to know our Bobby Spoo.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
We do the recall check ins too. Come never means let's go inside, let's leave the park, etc. It means... I have your ball, let's jumpy play, here is a great treat, let's go for a walk, etc. So easy to spoil it though - I am wondering if I will need to retrain a new word? Mom uses come for Annie and it might mean "time to clean your ears" "lets leave" etc. Wondering if that's partially what is going on.

The trainer at flyball keeps telling me not to use come during flyball practice because it's a bad word, and not fun. I am like - no, come is a good word, it never means bad things, and the super fast recall, excited praise, and ball play of flyball is exactly what I want her practicing come to me! I honestly dont care about how well she does at the actual flyball part, just the off leash recall and ignoring other dogs barking and playing practice :p

I don't know what to use as alternative command. Here? Return? Or another language? It needs to be natural or I wont use it in the heat of things.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The poodle awareness of the tone of desperation is one reason why I dont use drop it for high value walk finds. A plastic lid? Sure. A dead bird? Hah! You have got to be kidding me, I like this and its mine. Look at me strut, wagging my tail. Oh - you want to run down the street? Ok, let's do that instead, way more fun than the dead thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I use a whistle for hiking, etc, but rarely bring it on walks. She has a great whistle recall. I want an emergency recall that is replicable at any point, even if I dont have the whistle with me in case I drop the leash accidentally or for impromptu training, or she runs out the door or at the park. I could try me whistling, but that's ridiculously pitiful.
 

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Poodles need finesse in training because their brains are calculating options. Just because they are smart doesn’t mean they are Wilco. (Will comply). Takes a lot of firm but fair repetitions, a long view to poodle perfect and a sense of humor.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Definitely a sense of humour!!! I just have to laugh sometimes at her interpretations of my commands .

For example, did you know that "come" sometimes means run full speed towards your human, but deke to the side, still running, and do a loop to sniff the ground and an interesting person on the way there? It still counts as a flying recall if the poodle never stops running, right?
 
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