Ruby is in the dog house... And lucky, I suppose, to be in a house at all.

How she did this remains a mystery, but somehow she managed, without apparent effort, to slip her harness and take off after an old guy on a bike with a silly little dog in tow. She didn't mean any harm: she launched into a frolic that mostly entailed running around him and his dog in a big circle, all the while with a goofy grin on her doggy face.

It was after dark. We were all out in the middle of the neighborhood street -- mercifully no traffic came along. I'd just walked out our gate and started down the sidewalk when she spotted this guy. For the life of me, I do NOT know how she got loose: the leash clip was in place and the harness, left hanging at the end of the leash, was hooked together. The only thing I can imagine is I must have put it on her carelessly --  maybe didn't get it around both front legs?

WhatEVER. Though she didn't run away, she wouldn't come to call, either. The old guy took Cassie's  leash while I tried to lure Ruby back. Ruby was having a grand old time. Then the old guy's wife came along from the other direction -- why she was off down the road I don't know. She grabbed Ruby, even though, seeing the old guy's bike laying down in the road, she was worried that her hubby had fallen or been pushed off the bicycle.

It was an alarming episode. I was embarrassed, scared, and furious. She's only gotten out once before -- a few days ago when a mailman came into the courtyard to deliver a package and failed to close the gate behind him. That time she did come to call, possibly because the interesting mailman was still inside the courtyard.

At any rate, I brought her back in the house, parked her in a bedroom, closed the door, and then took Cassie out for a walk. So THERE!

Ruby is, in a word, ill-trained. It's all my fault. She was born just as the Mayo's doctors were getting their hooks into me, and was ready to come home in the middle of what turned out to be six surgeries over the course of a year. Really, I thought I should return her to the breeder, since there was no way I could do justice to training her. But I allowed myself to be dissuaded from that.

When I finally felt well enough to work on training, it was a day late and a dollar short. I called the trainer the breeder had recommended, but the lady was REALLY nasty to me. Said Ruby was not a puppy and could not come to her puppy training classes and I was not welcome there. Sooo.... I kinda gave up on that.

It's not like I don't know how to train dogs, so I figured wot the heck, I'll just work on her myself. Results have been mixed. She's well behaved around the house, but "heeling" is not a trick she's ever deigned to acknowledge. She does drag on a leash -- not especially ferociously, but enough that if you're not in the mood for shenanigans, walking her can be a bit annoying. She's not strong enough to drag me down the street, she never tangles me up in the lead, and by and large she does not lunge off like she did tonight. But also by and large..."heel" is not the term for her walking style.

She will come to call while she's in the yard or the house (mostly because she expects a dog treat in exchange for the favor). But I don't trust her to do that if she's outside the yard.

The reason we're using a harness is that Ruby can slip a martingale with noooo problem whatsoever. Also because a collar seems to irritate her esophagus and bring on a reverse-sneeze or choking episode. The harness comes nowhere near her throat, and so she never seems to experience any distress like that unless our eccentric neighbor tries to give her a MilkBone, which invariably causes a choking frenzy.

In the past I've used both a collar and the harness, with two leads -- one clipped to the collar and one to the harness, sort of like reins. This actually DOES foster more heeling-like behavior, but it's a nuisance, especially when I have Cassie in hand, too. It's like driving a horse carriage behind two mares, one of them a bit fractious. And "behind' is not le mot juste for Cassie: she actually does heel, in the classic sense.

I guess should've sent her back to the breeder at the outset. O'course I had no idea I was about to be subjected to half-a-dozen major surgeries and would end up a boobless wonder. It was a year after the last adventure before I began to feel normal again, more or less. But even one surgery would've been enough to disrupt was stupid to have kept her. Poor little dawg.

Maybe I need to find a behaviorist trainer myself? :-/

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LOL! Nothing like a dog to make mystify, eh? :-D

Don't give up on Ruby!  Or yourself as a trainer!  ;)  Mistakes happen.  Don't beat yourself up about it.  Nothing horrible happened.  In fact it sounds like you got to know a nice neighbor a little better? 

The biggest issue we all have is a reliable recall with our dogs.  I think it is the hardest thing to train.  Not if they will come when you are loaded with treats and there isn't much else going on, but when they are crazy distracted, they definitely want something else, but they still come when called. It is a very consistent, persistent, patient trainer that has confidence in their dog that the recall will work in this type of instance.

I took an online class called Recallers with Susan Garrett.  It is pricey, but was well worth it to me.  From a puppy that would basically ignore me, I now have a B+ to A- recall with Jeli.  She has the best recall of any dog I've ever owned.  The class works you thru 'games' that you play for a few minutes each day and builds up to being able to have an amazing recall.  There are about 40 games in all, and they all build on each other.  You learn other things along the way as well, but the main focus is a recall that you are confident in.  And, of course, you have to always 'practice' your recalls.  Its not something you teach once and never work on again.  Its a process, and I think its a skill that builds through time and maturity.   I'm now starting my puppy Jaxx in the games.  Its something I would recommend to anyone, at anytime in a dogs life.  They do not need to be puppies! 

So, hopefully all the medical issues are behind you and you can focus a little more on the pups.  Ruby is lucky to have you.  Don't quit now!  ;)


You can do the same class.  Its on-line.  She is from Canada and she has many students from many countries.  Google Susan Garrett Recallers and see what pops up.  Good luck!

Thanks, Susan!  I'll check that out.

I'll definitely check out the Susan Garrett class.

LOL! I'm afraid the neighbors went off feeling they'd had an encounter with a crazy woman. The wife, in particular, was visibly annoyed. The husband seemed a more mellow type, but he definitely wasn't impressed by the likes of me. OH well...

Both my corgis once dashed out the door and ran to the house next door because one of the neighbors was outside.  I was able to snag my boy pretty quickly, but my girl discovered that the neighbor had left his door open and snuck inside.  I was trying to figure out where she went when I hear the neighbor's wife exclaim "Emma!  What are you doing in here?"  Typical corgi, she was making herself at home in the kitchen, looking for crumbs.  At least the neighbors knew her and thought it was funny, but I was embarrassed.  Oops.

  That is truly hilarious!! It's worthy of a sitcom episode. :-D

Gwynnie was gone.  It was dark.  How long?  a minute? 15?  Half an hour?!  How far?  10 yards?  A mile?!?!  This was before we fenced the yard and taught her the

Really Reliable Recall            booklet

Amidst growing panic, Inspiration! 

I frantically opened the basement door and turned on the shop-vac.  Gwynnie had her teeth on the plastic nozzle in 7.24 seconds.

We had good success with Nelson's method without a whole lot of effort.  They think their "magic word" [we chose "venite`", Latin or Italian for "come"] means "bacon".  They would even abandon their soccer ball for the magic word!  That's success.

Thanks, John! This is really interesting. I'll definitely work on these ideas!

A dog and her shop-vac... Heeee! That was very wily on your part.

I definitely need to work a LOT harder on the recall training!


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