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Sighthound recalls - a realistic discussion


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I have become intensely curious about hound recalls. Especially sighthound recalls. I have been asking on breed-specific groups, so maybe I should ask here as well. 

 

To provide context for my intense curiosity all of a sudden, my 5yo Portuguese podengo pequeno trail runs with me off leash. This was not an easy achievement training-wise, and I can easily see why it's not recommended that this breed be let off leash in unfenced areas. However, on the weekend my very excited, chase-prone dog was belting up the side of a rock outcrop, barking for medio backup (as if it ever comes), which she does when she can smell or see a wallaby nearby. I called her casually, she broke off the chase straight away, and ran back down the outcrop to join me. This is not unusual for her on a trail run where she knows I may not wait for her. It has been my belief for years that this kind of recall has been possible with her because 1) She's a multi-sensory hound bred for rough terrain, so she always knows where she is and she always knows where I am and she hears my recalls. 2) She is not a super persistent hound. 3) She is small and mighty, but ultimately the terrain takes a lot of energy for her and she's not that fast, so she will get tired/lose the object of pursuit fairly quickly. 

 

Nonetheless, it occurs to me that she is committed to running WITH me to the exclusion of all else, and really, wouldn't we want a hunting dog to not be prone to getting lost? Thus began my efforts to understand what makes recalls on a chase-prone dog possible. If my podengo were bigger and faster - like a whippet or Pharaoh hound - would she be more of a liability off leash? How does her persistence really compare to that of other hunting dogs that haven't been bred for hunting for generations? At the end of the day, we really did work HARD on that recall, and I don't think I would have been so successful 10 years ago when I wasn't as experienced a trainer. Might it be that what we have achieved with her really is replicable with other breeds that are faster or more persistent? What are your thoughts on hound recalls and what is realistic in naturalistic environments where there will be prey animals?

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Of course the faster they are the quicker they can get out of the "sweet spot". You know the spot where they are ultra reliable. I'm sure you will know what I am trying to describe.

I currently have 3 Greys. None actually trained for recall but one I would think would not recall from chasing, one might but doubtful and I'm pretty sure the 3rd would come back. This is all based on my experience with them with the odd stray cat or escaped pet bunny they have found in my yard.

As I would never trust them they don't get the opportunity to be off lead outside our home or a fully fenced area. 

My boy was 8 when he caught his first trespassing cat. He was raised and lived with cats. It was quite amazing seeing him in "work" mode.

My Grey's are not retired racers, but show bred.

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47 minutes ago, Rebanne said:

Of course the faster they are the quicker they can get out of the "sweet spot". You know the spot where they are ultra reliable. I'm sure you will know what I am trying to describe.

My dog at least is least reliable when she's either startled or right on top of the object of the chase. If she's startled, she tends to just dive in there without thinking, but I can still recall her if by the time I pull my whistle out, she's still at least 5m from the object. If she's already on top of them by then, her recall reliability drops a fair bit and my fingers are crossed. At that point, it matters a lot what she is chasing. A wallaby she will leave, but if it were more her size, it would be a different story. I've always felt there's a lot to be said for having slow dogs to make recalling off fast-moving objects easier.

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With my Borzoi it depends on the situation - my girl has very good recall and apart from excelling at scenting classes she is not interested in any training although very intelligent. My boy is great at basic trick training and loves games but once he is on a chase nothing gets him back. Rabbits don't stand a chance with the Borzoi.  My Lappie is probably the worst and she will encourage them to ignore me. I learnt early on not to take all 3 or even just 2 off lead anywhere without good fencing as they get into pack mode as totally ignore me. However individually their recall is good.

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I did agility with one show Greyhound and the other happily recalled 100% even if cats around .

 

 I believe any dog can learn on the job and respectful daily life requirements you just train them 

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On 26/04/2021 at 9:27 PM, Dogsfevr said:

I did agility with one show Greyhound and the other happily recalled 100% even if cats around .

 

 I believe any dog can learn on the job and respectful daily life requirements you just train them 

There are nuances to this, though. For my pod, a field with swallows to chase is not the same as a mountain bike on a single track in the bush all of a sudden, or finding herself on top of a startled possum, or bouncing around in the bush and flushing something. She's also influenced in her choices by potential payoff and a risk assessment. Chasing a cat is a tiny payoff for her next to chasing a rabbit, and the possibility of finding a sandwich on the ground near a clubhouse or in a school playground is extremely alluring. I know she will go check out playgrounds if she were given the opportunity. She will come right back, but she's gonna check it, even if she has to run 200m away to go and check it. That distance is certainly enough to introduce enough conflict with my spitz dogs that they won't go, and a lot of people say their whippets wouldn't venture that far from them. Some of this kind of thing is much easier to manage and train for than others. I can manage access to clubhouses and playgrounds pretty easily, and training for recall from swallows was challenging, but doable. Recalling off animals running away from her in the bush is a completely different scenario. I think if she were as keen to chase wallabies as she had been to chase swallows, I wouldn't be able to call her off wallabies, but I can call her off swallows. The difference is in training opportunities and environment and the behaviour of the chase objects. 

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