Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day - Sally

To conform with something I read about training a dog, Sally and I went for a walk early this morning (about 7).
What I read was that since dogs are wanderers, it is more fitting to their natural instincts to take them for a walk before you feed them.
This simulates a "hunt" for the dog, according to this trainer.
It made sense to me, so I thought I would give it a try.

So, off we went.
Sally patiently allowed me to attach the leash to her collar and was ready to go through the gate to the outer realms.
While eager, she was generally restrained and did not pull too hard on her tether.
We are still working out who leads who on these walks but she did pretty good today.
Today's session lasted about 10-15 minutes.

Unfortunately, Sally's newly developing appetite causes her to be VERY hungry when feeding time comes around.
This morning was no exception.
Thus, every little discarded food wrapper (I had no idea there were so many laying around...) became an item of intense interest.
She even stopped to chew on a cigarette butt, which would have made for a great picture, had I been appropriately equipped.

I am not sure if Sally will ever be a dog that I can take on my three-mile personal exercise walks.
Great Pyrenees dogs are not long-distance runners.
Three miles may be too much even for an adult GP.
Thus, I am still trying to figure out the "proper" way to do a walk of my dog.

The purpose is to exercise the dog, tire her out a little, and burn off her natural energy so that she will be more relaxed at home.
I do not entirely buy into Cesar Millan's dog pack theory.
I understand and accept his underlying concept that the social structure of wild dogs it that of a pack (group).

But my dog is not in the wild.
She knows that I am not a dog, and understands that our social arrangement is not that of a pack of wild dogs.
(Since she left her litter-mates, she has not been around a "pack".)
There is a lot of structure in our living together now.
There are physical restraints, like fences, around her now, too.
She eats when I feed her.
There are no hunts to find food when the notion strikes her.
So I am not sure how much of the "pack mentality" is working in a domesticated dog.

So, is the goal of a walk for me and Sally to have her walk like a robot, like Cesar's dogs, or is it to allow her to have a good time, to sniff around and explore the neighborhood, more or less on her terms?
If her time outside the back yard was completely on her terms then we would not bother with a leash at all.
But that will not happen.
For one reason, it is against the law.
Another reason is she could run off and I would lose her.
So, there is some restraint in her walks, and will likely always be.
She has adapted remarkably well to the limits of the leash in just over a week.
The day may come when she and I can fiddle around in the front yard without any physical restraint on her.
We shall see about that in a year or two.

In the meantime, Sally will learn to live with a leash.
And, frankly, I am surprised how well she has accepted my little yard as her ranch/farm/home.
We shall see if that lasts.

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