Sunday, January 22, 2012

Every Moment is a Learning Moment

I try to take my dogs on a nice long run/walk off leash at a local natural area almost every day.  Honestly, I think the hike in total peace and solitude of the flora and fauna is as much for me as it is for them.  I decompress, think, and just breathe without the sounds or distractions of the 'real world' - I sooo look forward to those hikes every day.  But my obsession with multi-tasking does not sit quietly so of course I take advantage of the walks as a great opportunity to practice some basic training skills - but in a more fun environment.  Having a second, adult dog that is reliable on her training sure does help - puppies LOVE to do what the 'big dog' does and mimic their behavior.  So I have turned the recall exercise into a race game - waiting until the dog and pup are well out ahead of me sniffing something of interest- I then give a recall and the race to get to me first is ON :)   Of course Sula usually wins the race right now, but Buzz is fast catching up and will be quicker than she is very soon.  Nothing beats the incentive of racing the other dog back to get the treat first!   I also play hide-and-seek games, ducking behind a tree or bush when the dogs are ahead of me, then calling them.  They have to use their nose to figure out where I am hiding.  It is amazing how quickly Buzz has figured this game out.  Of course Sula is a PRO so it helps that he has been able to learn from her at the same time.  But he uses his nose very independently and now is starting to find me completely on his own rather than just following Sula.

I love being able to combine training in such a fun and de-stressful environment.  I try to look at every moment as a learning moment - knowing that Buzz has the mind of a steel trap, so it is in my best interest to help him learn the RIGHT thing...and not the WRONG thing.  :)   I just love watching Buzz learn and problem solve...nothing beats ending the day with such a great training hike!

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