Thursday, April 23, 2009

Loud Booms!

The best part about farm trips is getting to safely test off leash control on 60 acres. The perimeter is surrounded by mesh field fencing.

Reagan continues to prove that she is extremely attentive and responsive. As we walk fence lines and explore the pastures, she mostly stays close, quickly returns if she does give chase, and responds immediately when I do call. While things will catch Reagan's attention, she is not actively seeking it out. Reagan is most interested in me.

However, something unexpected happened. While teaching a private obedience lesson at the farm, Reagan was situated on a foam pad and awaiting moments when I needed to demonstrate something. All of a sudden a very loud boom occurred repeatedly. I do not know what it was. It sounded like dynamite. Unfortunately, Reagan is hypersensitive to loud base noises and she bolted (not good). As I started to look for her, I was pleased that she had turned around and was looking for me (better).
I share this with you because it is a good reminder that no matter how well you train your dog, things can happen. Sometimes greyhound adopters will brag to me that they can take their greyhound off leash and the greyhound always stays close...... often with zero training (I'm not impressed). Often this is a person and a greyhound who thus far have not encountered a cat, another dog, children, or in my case, a loud, scary noise with the off leash greyhound. Recalls must be carefully trained, reinforced, practiced, and proofed..... and even with lots of hard work, things can still happen.

Even with lots of formal training, I do not think Reagan would have stopped if I had called her in a moment of panic..... she was out of her mind. But without formal training, I doubt that Reagan's inclination would have been to return to me either. Recalls are rewarding, therefore Reagan will offer them when given the chance.
So the moral of my story is that you may think your dog is going to stick close. Good training increases your chances, but there is always a possibility of the unexpected. Without good training, your ability to deal with the unexpected greatly diminishes.

Happy training!