Away we go!
I am currently walking Ounce daily for 15-20 minutes. I am supposed to take her out twice a day but I’m ashamed to say that I rarely manage that, although I do try to provide additional experiences, such as visiting family.
I make sure that the walks we do are different from day to day. So we sometimes walk on lead from the house for 5 minutes, then round the field by the lake off lead, then back up to the house. On other days we hop in the car and drive round the corner, so that we can do the whole walk off lead. Or we might go in a different direction, so that we are closer to the lake and the trees. I plan to gradually increase the variety of walks we do, but it’s a challenge when the time is so short.
I walk her in the afternoon, before they have their dinner, so that she is hungry for treats! Each day I mentally run through the ‘programme’ of activities we might cover. This includes:
- Walking on lead
- Walking off lead, letting her wander away from me and have a good sniff
- Recall x 10-20, making sure she comes back during the walk, not just at the end
- Sit x 5
- Down x 5-10
- Play tuggie with toy
- Chase after toy
- Fetch toy, with recall
- Ignore a person walking past, while watching me and having treats
- Say hello to a person walking past, without jumping up
- Wait practise. This is quite a tricky one, as you can see in the video. You have to start right by the puppy and only move away bit by bit. I stepped in to feed her after a few seconds, before she got bored. I should have ended it there, because as you can see she then did get bored. I tried not to ‘reward the fail’ but to make her do a tiny bit more before I rewarded again. I didn’t do a very good job!
I’m pleased to say we are managing to work through all these elements. The other day I was feeling smug and getting ready to head back, when a man appeared round the corner, running flat out. Ounce first of all turned and barked at him “what are you doing you maniac?” Then she set off after him, running full pelt, hard on his heels.
There was no way I was going to catch her. I called her in a variety of tones, starting with a firm voice, but remembering to switch to ‘Excito-mode’ – more of a high-pitched squeal. After only about 10 seconds, she came hurtling round the corner back to me. Phew! Good test of her recall – passed.
Finally, just before putting her back on lead, I did a couple more practice ‘downs’. Because I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, I am starting to say ‘down’ (trying to be consistent in the tone of voice I use and being firm without sounding too scary) then waiting to see if she knows what that means. She does! Yesterday she looked up at me and flopped down, without me moving my hand down to her nose to bring her into position. Hurray! Only another few hundred more times and she might do it most of the time on voice command alone…
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