Saturday, August 17, 2013

Training Hike

What's this, you say? An actual blog post?  Like, written down and published for others to read???

Yes, Maisie lovers it is true.  While work and life have left me with little time to blog, today I was inspired to do so because Maisie and I tried something new that I wanted to share with all of you.  We did our first training hike.  That is, a hike with a trainer and her dog to help get my dog back on track as far as working on leash reactivity, among other issues.  When I asked Maisie if she wanted to go on a hike, she seemed a little confused about exactly what it meant as well.
"whatchoo talkin' bout wif dis hike thing?"

I'm not gonna lie, I was really nervous.  I have not kept up with Maisie's training and rarely even walk her on leash now that we have a backyard.  But when she snapped at a very nice man picking up his dog from daycare as we were walking out a couple weeks ago, I started thinking it's probably time for both of us to get a refresher.  So we met up with the lovely Hannalore of Boston for the Dogs.  Hannalore offers training as well as dog walking services, and an hour-long private hike sounded like a great way to get back into training.  Hannalore brought along her dog Luka as a canine companion and potential distraction for Maisie.  A short drive to a nearby wooded trail and off our quartet went.  I was again, very nervous that Maisie would react badly to another leashed dog in such close proximity, but Hannalore had it all under control.

Luka, Hannalore and Maisie

I used just minor corrections (Maisie wore her prong collar) to keep Maisie close when she wanted to wander, and in check when runners and bicycles went by.  Amazingly, she had no freak outs and did not bark or lunge once.  She even remained calm and walked nicely beside me when Luka was allowed to roam off leash and Maisie's leash stayed on (though she did let out a short, low growl when he came right up to her).  We walked and walked until I got a little too warm and needed to take a break.  Maisie seemed pretty content to soak up some lovin' from Hannalore as a reward for a job well done in the meantime.

Even I was feeling pretty calm and more confident at that point.  A bit of rest, some grass grazing from Maisie, a couple more photos to document what we'd achieved thus far and we were ready to move on.

Thanks for taking our pic, Hannalore!

By the time we reached the end of the trail, we had two very tired dogs.  Maisie snoozed the whole way home...she also farted in a particularly noxious manner throughout the entire drive, but that was probably unrelated to the hike.  Unless it was a result of all the grass she ate! 

Sleeping and farting.  Ah, a dog's life.

So our first training hike was a success.  I'm excited (but of course nervous) to do it again with maybe two other dogs or in a busier area, to test Maisie's skills a little further.  I also learned a valuable lesson beyond training tips, and I'll definitely use bug spray next time because the mosquitoes really got the best of me today!

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