I love open-minded, expansive thinking, which could also be described as out-of-the-box thinking. The coolest aspect (in my opinion) is once people fully grasp the concept, they are able to not only SEE the box they are in, but they are also aware that breaking through one box places them in a bigger box vs. being free of all boxes. This never-ending process of continuously searching for the next box to break out of is what expansive thinking is all about. For me this is the most exhilarating aspect of life, art, and dog training!
Yesterday I broke out of a dog training box. This past week, I’ve been noticing that I have been feeling 100% trusting of Jake and thus letting him run off leash with Lil during our walks in the woods and I knew with absolute certainty that he would not run off. But until yesterday, I didn’t know what had changed. He was still acting as high as usual, as rambunctious as usual, and even had that look on his face of “Go ahead, take the leash off, yeah, yeah, yeah, take it off, come on, you can trust me ;).” But yesterday, I realized what had changed. Without realizing it, I have been playing the ultimate recall game all winter long. It’s the GET OUT game, which puts running away ON CUE and by playing the game in a circle, Jake has been getting a ton of practice running away from me and then running back… full throttle! The two big breakthroughs for Jake have been “Out-of sight-no longer means out-of-mind” and “Run away and keep running away until the cue for GET OUT changes to either WAIT, or HERE” which essentially keeps Jake mentally engaged with me while running ahead.
too bad I was still fussing with my phone when Jake raced away but I captured the recall!
With the distance training, I am using both verbal and motion cues. The motion cues involve me walking slowly in the direction of the GET OUT, even if just taking tiny steps, with my body facing the dog’s path and arm extending forward. When Jake and Lil are running away from me, either on the doggie racetrack or in the woods, when they check in visually, they see my motion which continues to support their path. My verbal cues are GET OUT followed by GO…. GO…. GO….
Above is a photograph of the current Doggie Racetrack. The black mesh table on its side in the foreground is there to block off an icy patch (or puddle depending on the outside temp). Each morning, I walk around the path to make sure there is no ice that would cause Jake or Lil to slip since they run super-duper fast around the racetrack.
Its funny, until yesterday, I thought we were only “working on” distance skills with the GET OUT games but now I am convinced the distance training is entirely responsible for Jake’s new-found love of running ahead of me off leash in the woods and then turning around BY HIS OWN CHOICE to either run back to me if I cue HERE, or to pause if I cue WAIT, or do a 180 turn and continue running away if I cue GO GO GO.
I love this new bigger box…Its so much roomier! HA HA. I can’t wait to begin figuring out where the walls of this new box are so I can break through those as well. ps–The post preceding this one includes videos of a couple of GET OUT sessions in the backyard. Since those videos were shot, Jake is running faster than ever due to his increased understanding that the faster he runs away from me, the faster he can run back to get his reward. How cool it that?