A tired dog is a good dog
I have found that nothing tires out a dog the way a pack walk, where all dogs are heeling on the leash, does. Spencer gets a walk every morning and another at night, and often another in the afternoon (sometimes more). We do different types of walks with him, from heeling on a leash to heeling without a leash, to hikes in the woods allowing him to hunt around off leash with Bruno. On the walks where he hunts around with Bruno in the open woods he covers a lot of ground and does a lot of running and using his nose. When we return from these walks he is tired, however his mind is very stimulated and he is not quite ready to sleep. Bruno and Spence often play after we return. Their minds are reeling with excitement.
On the walks where all dogs are leashed, the length of time we exercise is the same, however the dogs are walking, not running. They are following. They are not allowed to walk in front of the person holding the leash and we keep all dogs that are walking with us calm when passing other dogs. Teach them to ignore and just keep walking. We cover less ground in the same amount of time. When we return from one of these types of walks all dogs immediately go to sleep. There is no excited playing. The dogs are beat and just want to sleep.
It sounds odd and if anyone would have told me this ten years ago I am not so sure I would have believed them. But, it’s true. When you walk a dog with leadership, make them heel on a leash, keeping them calm and following you, it mentally drains the dog so that all they want to do is sleep when they return. Perfect for those who work or are gone during the day. I am mostly home with Spence, however on days I must leave him or days when he is going to go for a long car ride, we make sure the morning walk is a real pack walk. It ensures that he is happy to be home sleeping in his crate while I am gone or relaxed in the car. Spence gets pack walked where he is heeling at least once a day. Sometimes that pack walk is at night rather than in the morning depending on our plans for the day. If I know we have an hour-and-a-half leashed pack walk planned with friends that same night I might hike with him instead so he has enough energy for the night pack walk. As he gets older I will not have to worry about saving some energy for our night walks with friends and their dogs. I have a feeling I will be putting a back pack on him to slow him down. 🙂
Dogs that go for walks on leashes where they walk in front and lead their humans, sniffing around where they please, return physically tired, but not mentally tired.
“Drop it” Command
At 13 weeks Spence is starting to respond to the “drop it” command. He was out in the yard and I noticed he had something in his mouth. I walked over to him and said, “drop it.” The pup actually spit it out onto the ground and waited to see what I was going to do next. I bent down and picked up what he had. Of course it was a piece of poop! Spence started to wag his tail in circles. I don’t know if it was his own poop, Bruno’s or the cats’, but I suppose poop is poop. Yuck!
Oh my gosh, Spence, now what do you have?!
“Drop it!” Oh my gosh, it’s a smashed, dried-up dead toad. Double Yuck! The things I have to touch because of you. Give me that!
Chasing the Birds
I was outside with Spence. The guineas were out there as well. One second Spence was following me and the next he was in hot pursuit of a bird! “Hey!” My words were going to do nothing this time; Spence was in the zone. I ran at him, however I was not going to catch up this time, but Spence was at a pace where he just might catch the bird. I got as close as I could to Spence and did the only thing I could think of, I tossed Bruno’s Illusion collar, which I was holding, at him. SCORE! It hit him in the side. I had not thrown it hard, just enough to touch him and get his attention. Spence came to a skidding stop. I walked toward him leaning forward until he showed signs of giving it up by sitting down, lowering his head and relaxing. I then backed off to let him know that was all I wanted. We were out there for the next hour with the birds and Spence only looked at them and back at me. He is starting to understand that chasing them is off limits. This battle of the birds is not over yet, however.