Saturday, May 8, 2010

The joy of a well-trained dog

Last weekend, my husband and I took Maisy to a local state park. It was a beautiful day: warm, but not too hot, mostly sunny, and perhaps best of all, while the clouds were ominous, it didn't actually rain. I call this the best part because it meant we were virtually the only people there, and as such, there was very little risk to letting Maisy off leash.

Maisy had a great time sniffing new scents, investigating critter holes and fallen logs and such, and just generally getting a chance to be a dog, but despite the awesomeness of being in a new environment, she was really good about staying close. She never got out of eyesight, and rarely went more than 20 to 30 feet before she would stop and look at us. Most of the time, she'd either wait for us to catch up, or wait for me to acknowledge her before running off again.

I also used the opportunity to practice recalls. I purposely chose times she was focused on something else, and would call her. I was thrilled to see a "whiplash" response where she would turn the second she heard her name. When she arrived, I'd give her a treat, and then send her out again, thus using both positive reinforcement and Premack.

All the recalls paid off, too, when I saw a cluster of people heading toward us on the path. Maisy saw them too, and she did hesitate before responding, but she came. I clipped her leash on, asked her to sit in heel position, and waited for the people to pass. As they did, they commented on what a good dog Maisy is. She is, of course, but I tend to take it for granted these days.

Anyway, it was a really fun afternoon. I bought a year-long pass, so I see many more hikes in our future!


Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

sounds like a fabulous trip!!!! Where did you go?

Crystal said...

Afton State Park. It's not too far- maybe half an hour of driving- and it's got TONS of trails to explore. We barely scraped the surface.