All Thrusters GO! Bernie McSquare Launches His Recall

Since I remembered our 33-foot lead on yesterday's visit to La Encantada Shopping Center, Bernie and I focused our efforts on practicing two tasks for the AKC's Canine Good Citizen test.

Coming When Called

We warmed up outside of Tiffany's on the second level. While people do come and go, it's not too busy of a corridor.

One of Bernie's favorite cues is "Come!" I've been working with him to refine his launch when he actually hears the word "come" and avoiding a false start if I just say his name, Prior to this recall, I asked Bernie to switch between sitting and a down position, so he heard me say his name, but he had to think about what I was asking him to do.

To challenge him a little more, I walked within about four or five of him. I leaned over, bending my knees, and then I slapped my thighs repeatedly. I said nothing and Bernie knew not to move. 

He waited until I backed up and said "Bernie, come!" Then he bolted toward me,

Labradoodle Bernie McSquare flies threw the air as he demonstrates his ability to come when called. He's incredibly enthusiastic about the recall cue.
Bernie McSquare runs at me, ears flapping in the wind, as he demonstrates his recall ability at La Encantada Shopping Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Sit and Down on Command / Stay

When we went downstairs into the more trafficked Apple Store courtyard, we found a fantastic variety of distractions to test Bernie's ability not only to stay, but also to switch between sit and down while maintaining a stay.

The wind was kicking up, birds were chirping, and a few small children were socializing.

Bernie had the hardest time ignoring the cute kids. He had one mishap after he had held a stay for about three minutes. There was one little girl at least thirty feet behind him chattering away to a few adults. He seemed fine ignoring her. Then this toddler boy waddled across the grass toward him. As the boy passed Bernie, Bernie stood up and turned around. I should have anticipated that two children on either side of him would be too much for my friendly guy, but we started again and he did really well.

I placed him back in a sit-stay and from over twenty feet away I asked him to change to a down-stay, which he did. Then I pulled out a soft toy he hasn't played with in a while. I tossed the toy near him twice and he didn't budge. Then I aimed a bit closer to him. The toy actually rolled over his front left paw and he ignored it. That's my good boy!

Bernie McSquare practices his down-stay with several people chattering away behind him at la Encantada Shopping Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Knowing When You're Done for the Day

I noticed that there was a guy on the second level behind me talking on his cell phone. I moved Bernie over to a grassy area underneath the loud talker. The wind and the birds chirping were still quite the temptations for Bernie McSquare, nature-lover that he is.

I placed him in a sit-stay on the grass and he was doing well for about a minute or so. I pulled out one of his favorite bouncy balls and just bounced it a few times by me. Then I asked him to switch to a down position and he ignored me. I tried gradually moving closer to him and repeating the request. I started with the verbal cue and followed with a hand gesture. He was still ignoring me when at least two dogs upstairs got into a bit of a ruff-ruff-ruff. I couldn't see the dogs, but it sounded like a bit of a disagreement. At this point, I determined that the levels of distraction were too challenging for Bernie. 

I backed off and praised him for staying. He held the stay for another minute as I bounced the ball a few more times. Then I said "Bernie, come!" and he enthusiastically raced to me. He's actually gotten quite good about not running into me anymore. 

After a treat and several pets, Bernie and I headed home. We had spent just over an hour walking around and practicing for our Canine Good Citizen test.

When you're training, how do you determine that
your dog is done for the day? How does your dog let you know?
Share your signs in the comments.