Hands up! I took my eye off the ball, or more correctly off the dog.
Poppy is now 14 months old, and just when I was congratulating myself on coming through the worst of the teenage months she has decided to make a break for independence! Not only that but she has developed a hunting instinct, something I didn’t expect from my Border Collie/Retriever/Newfie, and a few times recently has gone too far failing to come back when called. If that in itself wasn’t bad enough it is the start of the hunting season in the garrigue here so it is also extremely dangerous.
I know what the problem is and It’s entirely my fault not hers, she is just busy being a young dog, one with long legs and boundless energy. She was so good, not going too far, coming back when called that I became complacent and forgot the golden rule of not letting your dog ‘get out of hand’- that is to say call them back BEFORE they go too far. Add to that the fact that my 5 year old Lab x Jake is her ‘hero’ and focus of attention rather than me and the result is a dog that is at times out of my control and that I cannot trust to respond when she is ‘on a mission’
So what’s the solution? For me and Miss Poppy it’s back to basics. We are doing a lot more lead work and lots of one to one exercises and play to teach her to focus on me. We have separate walks several times a week, not easy at the moment when even one walk means an early start! She is a high energy dog who needs to run but this is now only allowed in short bursts, calling her back frequently and rewarding lavishly.
Will it work? It has to and I certainly believe so! The dogs of various breeds and ages, adopted from the SPAs and other refuges, that pass through the club gates are testament to the fact that it is never to late to change behaviour. With love, patience and positive reward based training you can indeed teach an ‘old’ dog new tricks!
Shirley Reddell www.clubcaninaude.org