Thursday, 6 January 2011

Woodland walk 5th Jan 2011

Happiness is a slovak in the countryside. We had an hour's walk around the woods yesterday. It was a bright warm morning. Almost autumnal. Filthy with mud as was Grey within 5 minutes. Nothing that a hosepipe on the doorstep can't sort out. He really loves it here. We were exploring new pathways and trying to build a mental map of the area. We came across a man walking with hat and a walking stick. Grey decided it would be a great idea to sniff his bum as he walked! Glad he was a good sport. We were charged head on by two portly staffies, tails stiff and errect. Grey just waited until they reached him in a friendly way. The tension was diffused and we all went our own ways. One potential difference to dogs meeting in this area is that there are lots of long straight narrow pathways, so dogs tend to approach from head on. If this was his only walking area, I can see this might be an issue. Grey is also more cautious of anyone or anything he comes across in the woods as opposed to open ground. So we'll definitely be still varying our walks across different locations.

He has started to notice a bit more of the wildlife scents around. A section of the woods where on the previous visit his brother was put back on the lead was now very interesting. He started hunting up and down the edge of the fence. I called him back to change direction with me and did some energetic 'this way' cues with fast but clearly thrown down food to stop him in his tracks. This isn't done as a bribe. I mark the successful behaviour with a clickerword and then deliver the food. So he has to come back first. He's not shown the food until it's delivered. The throwing is because it's exciting and encourages a fast halt and stop in his forward motion to pass me and run on. Then I switch to to cue him to walk with me, alongside me (not heeling but connected) off lead for the final 100m to the car. Was really pleased we managed this.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Happy Slovak New Year!

We've already been enjoying our new year. We blew away some cobwebs and headed off to some woodland that we've not been to before. It's a 25 minute drive from home; so the same time as we'd normally travel to the other woods we occasionally visit. I think we might end up preferring this area of woodlands to our previous haunt. Mainly because it's less dense and remote. So when I'm on my own, it's less daunting. Also seems very well fenced and no surprise openings onto roads. There are also huge long gravel paths so if its muddy and you're not feeling up to adventuring into the woods it's an easy walk. Also can see other people from a long way off. Oh and no riding of bikes or horses allowed. Phew!

Grey really enjoyed himself. He was relaxed and happy pottering around. I've noticed that he really doesn't go off hunting into the woods. Probably a blessing in disguise seeing as he's a pet and not a worker. But still in this environment he's in his element. I can see us being able to do some nice bits of training in that area. His recalls were lovely. He's been so much more relaxed and tired since trips out there. Much more than the beach trips. It would be nice if we lived nearer than 25 mins each way. That puts almost an hour on top of the walk. But I'd rather have quality time in the right environment than time in an unsuitable environment.

Today we returned and bumped into his brother, Gunner. The boys haven't seen each other in over a year I think, since we did a couple of tracking sessions together. Probably 18 months. Very funny to see how different and how similar they are in all aspects. Grey is a much smaller dog and twice as hairy. I think Gunner looks the more breed standard type with smooth ears. Grey has definitely got the wilder hair do! We'd also met a girlie slovak for a walk at Christmas and that was another example of how much more laid back the girls are from the boys. Grey was a bugger and so over excited. I think he's much better on woods and turf than beach.

Here's some photos and a bit of video of Grey mooching the day before on our own.

Our plans for 2011 are to be happy and stress free. Carry on with training as every good slovak needs an honest days work to be happy. And training really is just every day life. Helping to reinforce habits that make our lives fun and him the confidence to develop skills. We're going to hopefully get a place on the next LADS COLLAR course starting in mid-Jan. Micro-shaping here we come!