Obedience Training Saved Their Lives! (Very Long)

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Obedience Training Saved Their Lives! (Very Long)

Postby swillow66 » Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:56 am

I know this post is going to end up being way too long, but I am hoping that other Brittany owners who feel overwhelmed with their high-energy dogs can understand that a little bit of training will change both their lives and their dogs!

September 2005
Riley and Madison (littermates) are around 14 months old and it is the worse day of my life. Everyone else was either at work or school, when they sneak out the front door. I am already outside finishing my watering when the streak by me. At the end of our cul-de-sac is a path to the park and thankfully they head that way.

I see them in the distance, but I am no match for their speed and agility. I know that I shouldn't chase them as that will encourage them to run more, but at this point, they don't even see me. Eventually, I spot them again, racing around the park . . . good, maybe they will listen to me here, as my agitation is turning into fear.

They don't, instead it is on to a gated patio home community. I can no longer run, out of breath, as I enter into the development. Nothing. I can't see them anywhere. I continue to call, frantic now. If they continue on at this pace, they will get to the elementary school, which is just starting and has cars dropping kids off everywhere.

I spot them to the right, no sooner do I go that way, and then they zip down the block to the left. It has become a cat and mouse game and they are winning. Completely obliviously to me, they are only into each other and the thrill of the run. I have no help, it is only me, calling and searching frantically. After 15 minutes I realize it is of little use. I spot them for mere seconds and they turn another way. I know that they have the endurance to keep at this up for hours. I must make a new plan.

I walk home as quickly as I can. My legs are burning, why wasn’t I a runner? I’m 10 minutes away. I immediately grab my cell phone, two leashes and my car keys. Madison loves to ride in the car, after getting car sick however, Riley doesn’t. My hands are shaking as I drive past all the cars at the school to the patio homes . . . thankfully the gates are already open. I can’t be sure they are still there. Who knows what direction they have gone now. Thank god, there are always treats in the car. I call my husband in a panic. He is 40 minutes away and can only offer emotional support.

Luckily, I notice them right away. They still aren’t paying much attention, but Madison shows a small interest. I open the back gate to my SUV and yell a happy “let’s go bye-bye”. She takes the bait and jumps in. My heart is pounding. Where one goes the other will follow. Riley isn’t so easy. I shut Madison in the car and try to encourage Riley to come. While he isn’t racing away, he is still having too much fun. Now, my fear has turned to anger and trying to keep it hidden is hard. Eventually he believes me and comes to take the treat from my hand. I grab him, put on a leash and literally drag him to the car.

Forty minutes after "their" grand adventure started, I am driving back home and the bile in the throat is unbelievable. I don’t know if I should yell, scream, cry or sob. I call my husband to let him know they are safe. As dog owners what was our mistake? Our hearts fell in love with them when they were 8 weeks old. By 10 weeks, they could sit, by 11 they could lay down. We’ve worked with them since day one, but somehow walking has turned into dragging, a bad day at the dog park and Riley no longer likes other dogs coming up to him, they jump on everyone and we are literally spinning out of control.

At my wits end, by the end of the day they are enrolled in dog class. I’ve have always had dogs but I have messed up here big time. Maybe it is two against one, as apart they listen better, or perhaps it’s their high energy. Whatever the case, something has gone horribly wrong.

March 2006
I am thrilled. All I wanted out of obedience class was two dogs that could walk on a leash and come when they are called. With lots of work and determination, we have just passed our advanced class and earned their Canine Good Citizenship. Riley easily accepts strange dogs, they will sit when strangers walk in, but after last fall, I still worry that they can take off together. I am selective where, one at a time, they can be off leash. Finally, after months of practicing, at least at the dog park they both earn that right at the same time.

They are excited and I can feel it in them. They know we are going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My in-laws own ten wooded acres with 1 ½ acres being securely fenced. They can run to their hearts delight. It is cold, only 25 degrees. This summer I plan on taking them there, one at a time, and practice their recall skills in the forest. The trees are so thick and they haven’t been off-leash there since they were about 6 months of age. Next to the in-laws is another 35 acre site, then on to a 300 acre conservation. Running away here could be endless.

There are three other doggie playmates and life is good. I’m warming up in the house while my son takes some friends on the ATV’s up to the conservation. My husband rushes in. My in-laws guest accidentally let the pups out. They are gone. I’m running to get my shoes and coat. The incident from last fall replays freshly in my mind. I know that minutes have already passed by and we have no idea the direction they have taken. Unbeknownst to my son, if they have decided to follow him, it will be hopeless. As they won’t be able to catch up and we will never be able to follow at that speed.

I dash outside and call both of their names twice. Up from the gully they race happily towards me. “hey mom, its fun out here! What do you want?” Both immediately come to me. I still have treats in my coat pocket and joyously feed it to them. My husband and I give a relieved sigh as we know what a different story it could have been.

Tears start to form I a truly realize, earning their CGC was an accomplishment , training them saved their lives!
Shelli
Madison and Riley "Waiting for Spring!"

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Postby Kathy » Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:53 am

KUDOS Shelli :!: You've hit the nail on the head :!:

Yes, yes, yes, know exactly what you're talking about; have experienced all the emotions of searching for a britt that escaped out of the house to hunt down a rabbit ... formal obedience training (we enrolled in classes with a fantastic instructor) and lots of patient training work helped make that britt a better, loveable dog!

-Kathy
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Postby Dave » Sun Mar 12, 2006 12:39 pm

Good post Shelli . :D It is such a horrible feeling watching these dogs disapear , a dot on the horizon and knowing a car could maim or kill them in a flash . I'm on a mission to train Levi and he will listen . I'm getting an ecollar . I'm getting the one that tones so that he will get a warning of what's coming . The worst experience I had was a new foster rushing a gate and disappearing :( . They don't have a name and are scared . I am very pleased your girls are listening :) . Dave
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
-Will Rogers
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Postby Barb Wright » Sun Mar 12, 2006 12:54 pm

EXCELLENT testimonial, Shelli 8) I felt your terror, relief, pride, and joy :) The wonderful results you have achieved are truly a tribute to your determination, perserverance, and above all, evidence of the sense of responsibility and the love you have for your dogs 8) EVERYBODY WINS :D It doesn't get better than that :D
RIP Sweet Cassie 4/98 - 3/13
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Great post....

Postby Liz H » Sun Mar 12, 2006 12:57 pm

Something I do with my two out in the yard is carry treats at all times..and call them back to me at random. They get a treat...so they've decided that doing a recall is just about the best thing in the world they can do..

I just hope that they would think that if they got loose...I have a hunch they would..but don't want to tryit..
Liz,Max CD,RN APDT RL1 CL, RL2, CGC;Tyler CD, CGC; and at the Rainbow Bridge - Connie RCP (Retired Couch Potato)
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Postby Catharina » Sun Mar 12, 2006 6:25 pm

Thanks for posting that, Shelli! I was with you on that entire run through the neighborhood, heart up in my throat....

Whatever you can tell me about the methods used in your obedience classes to train in a reliable recall -- I want to hear all about it!
I don't want to hi-jack your thread for my training woes, though, so I'm starting another one for that.

For here and now: Congratulations to you, Riley, and Madison! And thank you for sharing!
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Postby swillow66 » Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:28 pm

The "yea - we came to mom" incident happened on Saturday and here it is Monday and I'm still so thankful they came back to me just like they were taught!

I just want anyone who is browsing our forum, members or guest, to know that in taking the effort to use a quality trainer will positively change the lives of both you and your dog forever.

My young daughter and I spent a total of only 14 weeks in two class and the four of us learned so much together. The pups aren't perfect, but neither am I. My husband and I figure the cost of putting TWO dogs into TWO classes was CHEAPER than ONE EMERGENCY VET BILL.

When we first started, my instructor also made an interesting comment to me. She has more older dogs (1-3 years of age) than puppies in obedience class. Basically, owners think they don't need training until a dog is no longer in control. She was trying to let me know there is no embarrassement in starting training later in a dog's life, so long as you take the time to JUST DO IT!
Madison and Riley "Waiting for Spring!"

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