Penny and I set out in the cool of the morning to take part in a special free dog training session in Darebin Parklands.
It was arranged by the City of Darebin Animal Management, and Lynne Hiscock was the contact officer who organised it. Darebin DOGs (Dog Owners Group) advertised it through their email contact group - firstname.lastname@example.org. Bruce, one of the organisers of the Darebin DOGs, is pictured here discussing the day with Lynne and making plans for the future. I'm very grateful for the work they put into this day.
A local dog obedience club ran the session.
It was an enjoyable morning, even though it quickly got very hot and we were all heading for any little bit of shade. I'm not much into formal obedience, I must say, but got a few good ideas for working with Penny.
The things I will practise are:
walking on the short lead without surging ahead;
doing a five-minute sit at home;
making sure the recall is very strong.
When Penny is on the long extending lead I don't care if she's out in front. I don't have any sense that she thinks she is leader of the pack when she's ahead. I think she is just aware that if she wants to sniff evey vertical surface, she'd better rush ahead so she can do it before I catch up and hurry her on. Likewise when she's off lead and going places with me I don't mind if she ranges out from me.
However, when we walk up to the shops it's great if she's walking nicely and I'm going to do what the trainer said. How we did it was that she walked on my left, as normal, and when she surged ahead I stopped and walked backwards a few steps, calling her if necessary and when she was level with me on my right I turned towards her so she was on my left and we walked a bit in that direction, before heading back the way we had been going. I think that was it...
I'd like to try the five-minute sit because, even though I'm not into dominance, it would be a good exercise to try occasionally to check that she does have the self-control to do it.
The recall was discussed at some length. I agree with the trainer that this is the most important obedience command. Although I may not like obedience training, I know that there are some things that MUST be taught to a high level. He reminded us that it is vitally important that all recalls must end with a pleasant experience for the dog and that we should never chastise a dog when it comes to us, no matter how irritatingly slow the return was.
It was a pleasant surprise at the end of the session to discover that there was a free bag of goodies from the 4-Legs dog food company. It's a brand of food that I do buy sometimes, when we're slacking off from the only-raw-food thing. I also use the 4-Legs Doggy Cool treats because they seem to have wholesome ingredients and they can be cut up into tiny pieces without falling apart.
We allowed Penny to have a look in the bag and she pulled out a bone-shaped rawhide treat and rested in the shade whilst chewing it. I don't think I would be buying them, though, as I don't like rawhide treats because I got a fright one night when she seemed to be choking on one (not a 4-Legs one).
Oh, course, seeing we were in the beautiful Darebin Parklands, it just wouldn't be a satisfying day unless it ended with a swim - and the water was crystal clear, today.