If you ask different trainers what they think are the top two most important things to teach a puppy, you're bound to start a conversation that could go on for weeks. Everyone has their own version of what's important and sometimes picking a "most important" becomes a matter of perspective. In my world, it's always subjective and varies with situations and settings as to the importance of certain things a dog should know. I'm topping my list with having a good recall. For those who may not know what a recall is: recall is your dog coming when you call, without any hesitation; and without detours along the way.
Today was our first trial run to test her recall on the farm without the big boys with us. Gilley has a FANTASTIC recall for which I am grateful, but Cinder needs to learn to come on her own, without Gilley or Buzz. We took her to the horse barn with us and took a walk with her on a long-line (25' rope).
The first test was just getting her past the chickens darting around the barnyard! Once we got her out of the barnyard and headed to the back fields, we were able to start letting her loose. I was apprehensive because she has a great recall within the confines of our house, but when she's with the big boys, she's merely following them. With 340 acres to run, I got concerned when our first dozen recalls on the long-line were questionable because she kept sniffing and snooting - I had to tug her most of the way to me. After about another dozen successful but lacklustre recalls, I was a little less hesitant to turn her loose, but not entirely convinced.
At the creek, we generally leash the dogs because that's a sort of last rest area before we're back in the barn yard and turn-out area. Buzz has a horrible track record around the horses and chickens; and no recall once he starts a chase. Gilley's awesome because I raised him going to the barn every day and he learned how to behave around the barn animals, but Buzz was already three when we got him. We worked to teach him barn rules and on leash, he's GREAT but the minute he's free, he becomes an unstoppable Tazmanian Devil, killing chickens and chasing horses (NOT herding, chasing); and he ignores all efforts to recall him or stop him. Rather than fight it, we just habitually don't give him the chance. Cinder will learn by trips as the single dog with us and trips with Gilley. Hopefully she'll become trustworthy at the barn like Gilley, but right now, we have to reinforce the whole recall and be able to get it reliably before we tempt fate and let her loose at the barn.
That's one more small hurdle successfully accomplished in our daily life as we continue raising Cinder.