Thursday, October 14, 2010


We've returned to our off leash walks in the woods. High value treats are in my pocket at all times and the leash is on until I'm sure the area is cleared of deer.

Our Monday walk was going really well. Griffin was coming back when asked, splashing in puddles and NOT chasing other wildlife. We headed to the little pond (big puddle?) and he raced off ahead of me to the bushes surrounding the puddle. I called him. And he did not come.

But before I had to make any decisions about what to do next, he RAN towards me and THIS jumped out of the bush after him.

Apparently someone else wanted to swim. Luckily she only went out that far and didn't try to actually chase him for any distance. It's not fun when cows are scared and angry! I made Griffin pose a safe distance away. He's never been interested in the cows and he keeps a safe distance.

For the next several minutes he didn't leave my side. When we reached the other part of the creek he went off to splash and play. His response to recalls were very sharp the rest of the walk.

I'll be interested to see what happens when we get out tomorrow. Will he do his usual response or his turn-on-a-dime? Was the event actually punishment (and we'll see a decrease in the 'run off when called' behavior?)? Or negative reinforcement (stay close or cows will eat you)? Or was it just something scary and his improved response had more to do with heightened anxiety.

Punishment does work and it can work quite well. But it's not something I intend to use in training. If he's worried by the sight, smell, sound, or being closer than 30' to cows I will have a lot of re-training to do. He doesn't need to go right up to them, but, living on a cow farm and going to various events, it could be problematic if he is scared of cows. I also hope he is comfortable working at a distance. It's been amazing to watch how comfortable he is running 80-150 yards from me. He checks in, but is out there and relaxed.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I had a similar "accidental punishment" situation with Captain. I was letting him hold a ball in his mouth on our walk home from the dog park. He dropped the ball, and when it started to roll away, he lunged after it so fast that he whipped completely around and fell on his side when he reached the end of his leash. I felt really bad, but after that experience, he stops and looks at me before he takes after a ball when on leash.