This week was our week! Maybelle and I got practice walking with more distractions, as well as “stay” with more distractions. We walked past other dogs, while learning to ignore them. We also practiced staying while the other dogs walked in circles around us.
May excels at both of these…in a controlled situation. But we’re learning to transfer this to the real world.
Down the road there is a path that cuts from our neighborhood over to the next neighborhood. It goes between two yards, and one of those yards is home to a Black Lab that we are, no doubt, torturing. We approach the yard with May heeling nicely, and when we get close — and the dog starts to bark — I start bribing her with treats. As long as she ignores the dog, she gets to nibble on the treats in my hand. She’s getting much better, though when I’m unarmed and we happen upon a squirrel…all bets are off.
We also started to work on our emergency recall. This one is touch to practice at home, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. You need to be armed with at least 30 seconds worth of treats in your hand. In class, we walk away while the trainer holds the leash, and then from the other side of the room you say, “Maybelle, now!” Notice we don’t use “Come.” That word gets used a lot, and this is not for when you just want to dog to follow you upstairs. This is for when your dog is about to run in front of an oncoming car! When the dog gets to you, you make those treats last as long as possible and while the dog is nibbling on the goodies in your hand you lavish them with praise and pet them (preferably long strokes on the back, because apparently dogs don’t particularly like having their heads petted). Basically, the dog needs to know they’re coming to you and staying with you.
At home, though, I have problems practicing this one because every time I go to get a fistful of treats out of the fridge May perks up and comes running. I can’t call her to me if she’s already glued to my side! So I find myself sneaking around trying to get the treats out without her hearing me.