Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! Mine was awesome in Upstate New York with my beautiful wife, our pretty daughter, and Copper and Scout.
Scout, Ry, and myself had the opportunity to go on a twilight stroll the night of the 4th and I can’t explain how enjoyable it was. Ry was strapped to me in a Tula and Scout was off lead roaming within 20 yards as we hiked up the hill. The best part was the fireflies. Riley loved looking around at them as they lit up the night and provided a better show than the fireworks. Scout was also an absolute delight, sticking close and coming immediately when recalled. We practiced a couple times before we went too far up the hill but after that, I took off her lead and let her go. She bounded to and fro was enjoying herself immensely. It was fun watching her dark shadow bound through the grass and brush. Should she get carried away and forge ahead too much, a quick, “Scout, too far” and she would come back towards me and stick closer. I was feeling pretty confident that our next off lead walk would be just as enjoyable.
Ha! Boy was I mistaken. When I introduced Copper and Ash’s parents’ dogs into the mix, all hell broke loose. Dogs were running willy nilly.
I was surprised but I should have remembered the lesson I learned training with Rich Graham of Trident Fitness in Orlando. He began with a simple set up of directing a dog to cross a horizontal ladder off lead. We did this agility exercise a couple times until both dog and handler had no difficulties with it. He increased the distraction level by placing all the dogs that were by their handler in the first iteration of the exercise next to the ladder on an elevated platform. The added stress of the dogs in close proximity to the obstacle made the dogs that had no trouble crossing the ladder originally unable to without their handler grabbing the lead and guiding them across. It astounded me that we seemed such a simple change in the exercise to humans caused so much difficulty for the dogs.
Now applying the above lesson to the creek excursion made perfect sense. Although Scout was completely obedient when it was just us, the distraction of the different environment (the addition of multiple dogs) proved a weak link in our obedience.
Moral of the story: increase the stress and distraction of training, train in new and different environments, and be patient. It is a work in progress. Every day is training.