Big-dog-little-handler: off the lead and running free!

Getting Duke off the lead has been a hard task. It started off relatively well – he came back when called and although excited when he saw another dog you could always grab him in time. This didn’t last. Suddenly Duke could jump fences and knew what was coming before we did. We were battling against a breed trait. Ridgebacks were bread to hunt lions; no lions available on the planes of Dorset. Duke used his ingenuity to fine a new enemy to hunt down. This enemy? Bikes. Unfortunately cyclists are everywhere and I don’t wish to rescue anymore cyclists. He doesn’t hurt them: but makes sure they stay where they are till I come and collect them. This is obviously not ideal. And embarrassing. So Duke’s been back on the lead and he has lost a lot of his freedom.

We have been trying to re introduce off the lead walks to Duke. It gives him time to chase a ball and act like a crazy dog. Which a Dog like Duke needs.

We had a lovely opportunity to let Duke off today! No cyclists and no live stock: perfect conditions. Duke had a great time even though he did get a little too excited at times. I suppose we cant blame him for that and he will learn in time. We did forget his ball which is a rookie error. But he enjoyed it all the same. Even if I was a nervous wreck.

His behaviour on the lead has improved too. He has got much better with greeting other dogs on the lead, we have been running together on the lead each morning and he’s pulling a lot less in general.

I’m hopeful that he will be off the lead more often. He’s definitely getting there! It’s been months of practice recall on the lead in training, and weeks of practicing it off the lead in the hall. It’s definitely starting to pay off. His emergency stop is perfect in the hall and getting good outside. We just clearly need to keep reinforcing it. We are less concerned about meeting dogs on our journeys as training classes have definitely enable him to be less fussed about the presence of another dog. If only we could do a dog training class with Cows.

Duke’s got his first “stay away” next week as we are in London for a few days. I’m so nervous even though I know he will be in good hands.

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