Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Obedience Skills Are Used During Everyday Walks...

Last night I took the crew out for a run around 9pm. We chose a long stretch of grass that allows the dogs to really run and play. The grass is directly beside a road that sees moderate traffic although it was late at night. Our neighbourhood also includes rabbits, cats and the occassional coyote. 

Here's where obedience skills made our walk safe and fun. We saw a cat right after leaving the front door. A simple "watch" cue told my dogs that they should be focused on me instead. We used our loose leash walking skills to make it over to the grass and as a result I wasn't pulled or hauled around. 

Before taking the dogs off leash they were asked for a sit stay. This gives me to do a once over of the area before giving them freedom. It also gives me a chance to practice sit stay (with a real life reward of play for completing the task). 

Once off leash we needed to use "recall" aka "come" a few times when the Aussies went too far. Remember it's dark out so I wanted to make sure I could always see them. They also discovered various pieces of garbage that I didn't need to touch since they all know "leave it" means forever. 

Occassionally when I saw headlights coming it was time for everyone to offer a down stay. This keeps my dogs safely near me and away from traffic. If I had had a beginner dog with me it would have been the perfect chance to practice leash on (and then showing the dog that they can be unleashed again once the car is past which makes putting on the leash a non-issue).  My dogs are taught to hold stay until I release them verbally with an "all done".

The entire walk took about 30-40 minutes. They practiced almost all their basic obedience commands. We didn't use any additional reinforcers (aka food, toys, etc) because I had the best reward available (running free and playing with each other). Remember that obedience is a way of life and not just a class you take when your dog is young. Practice all the time and incorporate it into any activity you do with your dog. Make playing "obedience" the best game and you'll have a dog that can listen anywhere.

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