Oh yes, they pick up on our breathing! I was having trouble with Eska breaking her down just as I was about to give the recall command. I finally realized she was using the big breath I took just before the command as her cue, instead of waiting for the actual word!
I stopped taking that big breath - problem solved!!
Have you ever worked on focus exercises with her? It's the first thing I was taught to do with my dog when training them for a loose-leash heel. It is the key to getting your dog's immediate attention when it's being distracted by another dog, a squirrel, etc. :
Thanks for the suggestion - it's another hot and muggy one today, so we'll work on this at some point. People comment on how attentive Xena is, never straying too far and looking to me for direction, but I can't take full credit there. I think it's part of her personality and I just encouraged it when she was young. So it's not something I've felt the need to work on in years, but it's time for a refresher.
Btw, we had a mini success just about 10 minutes ago. This company here leads Segway tours that pass right in front of our house, which drives Xena nuts. I was standing on the porch about to throw a frisbee when I saw them coming behind her. So I said "place" and she went directly there without hesitation. Once she was there, of course, she was facing the sidewalk and saw the Segways going by. She started barking and tried to charge, but I was able to hold on to her until they passed.
Another exercise we do at least once a day is sit out front, me in a chair and her at her "place" (a couch). This time of year, there are always pedestrians, Segways and golf carts flying by and I can't keep track of every little thing that's moving. So she goes to her place, I sit down next to her and put her on a training leash. When I see her ears prick or sense she's about to charge, I tell her "no" and give a little correction. But I don't know if it really sinks in since she couldn't get to the fence, even if she wanted to.
When we were working on getting her to stop charging the fence, the trainer suggested I set a 2-3 foot boundary from the fence, like a line in the sand she can't cross kind of thing. When she tried to cross that line, she got a correction and eventually stopped where I wanted her to, and then the trainer worked with me on getting her to stay there, with the gate wide open, until I gave the "release" command. But that seemed better in theory than practice and I didn't follow through. My reasoning is that she's out there all the time chasing balls and frisbees and sticks, and if one goes into the no-go zone, what's she supposed to do, just stand there and look at it?