Puppy walking

An adventure in looking after a puppy until it is old enough to be properly trained as a guide dog for the blind.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

We’re on our walk again this morning and for the first half, we’re discussing who’s the boss. I work up a good sweat even though it’s only 3C out there. I’m thinking about training and how I dislike jerking on the leash to make corrections all the time. I’m reminded of dressage, when my coaches used to tell me that I was supposed to make guiding the horse look effortless. However, that takes a well trained horse AND a well trained rider and Rockwell is just starting to learn about training so I guess I’ll just have to be patient and wait until he learns more.

Thinking about training made me also watch him as he was so easily distracted by everything around him and I thought about how “real training”, when he’s old enough and back at the Guide Dog centre, will really be good for him. Real training will give him something to focus on - pausing at curbs, guiding around obstacles, waiting for commands - and I think he will find that more enjoyable than running off after birds. Really.

So we’re in the home stretch of our walk and he’s tired and walking really nicely. Way up ahead, I spot Skye with her two chocolate Labs and we wave and she takes them down a side street so as not to distract poor Rockwell. (Thanks Skye!) A few days ago, we had met up in the street and Rockwell was all over those two dogs. I remembered the first time they’d met and he was so overwhelmed that he piddled as he cringed. This time, he was bigger than the smaller, younger female Daphne AND he had grown testicles and discovered he was male! So I was relieved that Rockwell had not seen them and we could continue walking normally. Suddenly, after they had long been out of sight but we had got closer to the corner where they had turned, Rockwell stopped dead in his tracks and sniffed the wind. He lunged at the end of his leash, wanting to head out to where he smelled Daphne and Sasha. And I could tell he recognized their scent - he wasn’t just reacting to any old dog. It took a few minutes to get him to remember who was boss (that would be me) and walk calmly again. Very interesting.


At 1:30 p.m., April 06, 2006, Blogger Katherine said...

Your post reminds me of my daily morning walk with Sampson. I want to be the boss without having to remind him I am every 2 minutes! I feel bad and a little mad so often. I want him to enjoy the walk but we both should enjoy it, too. I just ordered the new Cesar Romero book "Dog Whisperer" after my brother told me he had great success with his beagle after watching this guy's show a few times. WE'll see. Good luck!

At 12:35 p.m., April 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only have one dog out of my three I actually enjoy walking! Molson is very attentive and heels nicely. Fortune is a maniac. For all the training she's had one would think she would know and comply with what is expected. No Way. Lyric pulls a fair amount, even with a martingale collar so it's definitely something I need to work on with her.

Good luck- I know what a struggle it can be if the dog is easily distracted.

At 11:57 a.m., April 10, 2006, Blogger JuliaR said...

Thanks for your support, Katherine and Gwiz. I keep saying "baby steps, baby steps".


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