Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shibas don't recall, eh?

That's the biggest myth about shibas: that they don't recall. Maybe your shiba doesn't recall, but shibas as a breed are perfectly capable of it. But like I always say, it's a matter of motivation, and if your dog isn't getting off-leash time, it's certainly not gonna be motivated to come back when it gets loose.

Anyway. All this to say, I have an anecdote. I think it was Friday morning on our off-leash walk, the Evil Giant Chihuahua and its person came out of their house somewhere ahead of us. This freaked me out, because the human uses a walker. If Tinky-Winky gets into a fight with a regular dog, well, that's one thing. But what if she got into a fight with this man's dog, and he tried to intervene and fell? At best, he'd be rightfully upset, at worst he might really hurt himself. And since the Evil Giant Chihuahua likes to antagonize Tinky-Winky, a fight seemed probable.


At this point, Tinky-Winky was behind me, so I called her. She could see that I had the leash in my hand (as opposed to around my neck as I do when just carrying it) so she knew I was gonna leash her up. So she sauntered past me well out of my reach, until she saw ahead of her the Evil Giant Chihuahua. She stopped and looked at me. Then at the chihuahua. Then at me. I kept calling her, still with the leash in my hand. She looked back and forth between me and the chihuahua for a while, and then she made her decision. She got her big shiba smile on her face and ran back to me. Not past me as she likes to do to show obedience to the letter of my command while ignoring the spirit of it. No, she ran right to me, stopped, and waited to be leashed up.

When we resumed walking, what happened next is that the Evil Giant Chihuahua wiggled out of its harness and came running at us, snarling and barking. I stopped, held Tinky-Winky by her collar, and tried to grab the chihuahua. This is part of why Tinky-Winky is willing to come to me when there is another dog: because I'm going to handle the other dog. She knows this. She knows it's better to let me do it than to fight the other dog herself. If I recalled her and then tried to force her to "make friends" with the other dog, she'd never come. So here I am holding my dog with one hand and trying to catch this psychotic chihuahua with the other hand, and the dog's person abandonned his walker and came running after his dog, to the best of his ability, which is exactly what I had feared in the first place. Technically, now that it's his dog off-leash and not mine, I'm at least free of liability, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't want this man falling or getting hurt. Luckily, he did neither. He was able to grab his dog, and then walk safely back to his walker, and continue his stroll.

Just to be sure, though, I didn't let Tinky-Winky off the leash again as I normally would after passing another dog. I just didn't want to take a chance while the man was out there. So, she lost about a quarter of her off-leash walk that day for being a good dog. But she didn't even ask me to let her loose again. That's the great thing we have that I think many dogs are missing: trust. She trusts me to take good care of her, and I trust her to be a responsible little dog.

So yes, shibas recall. They just have to want to.

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