Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Two Perfect Heels and Four Minutes In

As you'll know from previous entries, I've been working on Ellie's walking to heel more than anything else. I think it's so important to have a dog walking under control. Not just for the dog's sake, but for others around it too.

Today, she did me proud, twice. I have walked her to the local playing field and back twice, both times she has walked almost to perfect heels. The times that I have to turn around are getting fewer and fewer each day now. The only times she really faults at present is if other people approach, or if other dogs approach. She just goes into wiggly mode and wants to play with them all. But, I can safely say that she is becoming an absolute pleasure to walk. We even have a small jog across the field, and she jogs off-leash by my side. As far as I can tell, she loves it.

When she's done well, she gets to play fetch with her favourite ball. I'm aware that as a puppy she's going to be more inclined to stay by my side now anyway, but if we can make the most of this natural instinct while it's there, it should just become second nature to her.

Today was the second day of her exposure to being left alone in her crate. With yesterday being a two minute duration, today was a four minute duration. I placed her in, and without fuss walked away, shutting the living room door behind me. Armed with my stopwatch, I sat and waited. After about two and a half minutes there were half-hearted attempts at whimpering, but really nothing serious. I then heard an exhale, the type she gives when she's settling in to lay down.

Sure enough, after the four minutes were up, I returned to find her laying down, playing with a toy. I deliberately go out of my way not to make a fuss of her when I return into the room, as I think excitement at that stage can only help raise excitement in the dog, and then break her concentration, resulting in her jumping about. Best to keep it all low-key I think. I've also started asking her to sit and wait when I open the crate door, so that there isn't a mad dash out of it. Six minutes tomorrow.

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