Friday, April 17, 2009

Lab and pond they go together

Friday - fifth day - the pond

I dug out my extension leash, six foot leash, and tennis ball, clipped on my treat bag, then went to get Bruce. As always I asked for a sit and attention on me before I clicked and opened the gate. This time instead of letting him straight out I blocked the opening and waited for him to sit again before clipping on the leash.

The exercise outing planned for this morning would be to walk Bruce down a wooded trail to a large pond on my neighbor's land. This pond was a bit bigger than the one right off the gravel road and I didn't have to worry about letting him off lead and him getting in the road. We don't have a lot of traffic, but do get enough to worry about the dogs loose on the road. I didn't know yet if I would let him off lead or not, it would depend on how attracted he would be to the ball and pond.

I asked Bruce to stay in a heel position until we came to the trail through the woods. He was very good at keeping the leash loose most of the time. Once on the trail I let him go ahead of me to the end of the six foot leash so he could do some good sniffing of whatever passed along the trail before us.

If he kept only an ounce of so presser on the lead I would keep walking. But if he pulled harder on the leash I would quickly start to run backwards and pull Bruce towards me while saying the word, COME. This was the start of his new recall/come lessons. Once he arrived in front of me I would ask for a sit then click and treat. Then we would travel on again until he pulled on the leash and then I would repeat the come lesson. He was very excited about the new smells along the trail and also did some marking.

Once at the pond I asked for a sit and had to ask again before Bruce in his excitement over seeing this large pond would give me any attention. I replaced the six foot lead with the 27 foot extension leash. Then I clicked and let him go into the pond. He ran right in until he was swimming. I pulled the leash a bit to lead him to circle round and back to the land. He came out coughing from water he swallowed while swimming.

Once he finished coughing he want to ahead back info the pond. I wouldn't allow him to return to the water without first having him sit and look into my eyes. I would then blink-click and allow him back into the water. I took the tennis ball from my pocket and when he came out of the water I showed it to him. Well, he must have played ball in the past because he got even more excited and kept jumping up. I would not toss the ball until he would sit to the command SIT. I tossed it into the water just a few feet off shore. Bruce quickly fetched the ball and returned to me.

He was chomping madly on the ball and jumping up on me wanting to give it to me. I couldn't get it out of his month without in countering his moving teeth. He would have mangled a duck retrieving it.

Well this water retrieving was Bruce's passion! He was so excited about it that he had a hard time giving me any focus. When he couldn't see the ball - it was right in my hand -- he would run around in a frenzy sniffing the ground and water looking for it. Calling him did nothing. I had to wait for him to finally get a sniff of the ball in my hand before he could focus enough to hear my sit command.

Bruce is a fetching fool!

With each toss he got better about refocusing back on me once I had the ball. It was also getting a bit easier to take the ball from his month without getting pinched by his teeth. He also stopped jumping up to try to give me the ball back. Unlike the day before with the sock game each and every time he would return the ball all the way back to me. He didn't want any treats right now all he wanted was the ball tossed so he could retrieve it again. After he became entangled in the extension leash for the second time I removed it. I could see that he would not take off -- this game was way to much fun.

I threw the ball near, far, high, and low, on land and into the pond. I was soaking wet along with the ball and Bruce. It was a bit too early in the morning for good light to take photos. I will have to try for photos in better light.

I also asked for DOWN but Bruce had a hard time with this. He just didn't want to lay down in his excited state. I wouldn't toss the ball until he finally laid down. I repeated the down lesson a few more times until Bruce would lay down quicker. We will have to work more on this again.

I hope whomever adopts Bruce from Labs4Rescue will take him swimming often. Many labs love water and retrieving. Once we returned home and I put him in his crate and took my dogs for their walk Bruce didn't whine and bark for as long a time when we walked out the gate. He is learning that fussing doesn't make me run back and that I always return. And once back while I cleaned his dog yard he didn't whine and bark but just watched as I worked. He is learning self control.

Evening fun - Bruce is not a tracker

I worked late on the computer and it was nearly dark before I noticed. My son found our cat and brought her inside and I let all the dogs loose but Lobo my shepherd. Bruce ran around the yard sniffing and then back to me. I had a tennis ball so I asked for a sit before I tossed it for him. We played fetch. He attention was on the ball and he didn't pay no mind to the other dogs in the yard.

The ball bounced into the crawling iris ground cover and it took Bruce a few minutes to locate it by smell, probably because of his excitement. But then later he went into the wood area and came back out without the ball. For the next ten minute he ran around the whole area yard looking for the ball but couldn't never find it again. It will turn up, but I have had dogs in the past that would have found it very quickly using their nose.

I put the dogs up and gave them a raw beef bone.


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