Well, usually after a week there is at least one or two things that REALLY stick out as topics to blog on . . . not so much this week. It was a rather uneventful week, at least a far as big things go. But there have been a lot of little successes that could very easily be overlooked on those weeks where something exceptional happens. So, this week will be about the minor goal posts . . .
The weather has gotten colder and Cura has been ravenous. She just can't seem to get enough food. It must be the cold so, as an experiment, I have upped her food a bit instead of supplementing her diet with various treats. The treats (think doggie junk food -- even if I DO go for the healthier options) combined with a couple of days where she didn't get her run, and Heather noticed that she was looking a little heavier than normal -- still within the healthy range, but not her normal svelte self. We decided that giving her a bit more kibble, returning to a 'normal' treat schedule, and putting her coat on when she was out working might solve the problem. It seems to be working, she isn't looking at me like she is starving so I am back to, at most, one treat per day and she is not looking around for more food. She actually likes her coat when she is out and about.
I am working with Cura off-lead more now -- though always in a fairly controlled environment. She has been working off-lead for some time at the doctor's office and now we are doing the same during evening classes. The building is pretty secure so she is not going to get outside, but she could certainly run me a very merry chase if she chose to -- so far, so good. Also, at Rick's suggestion, I purchased a no-jump harness (the person who invented those things must have a sense of humor -- it is just one big puzzle until you get the hang of how it works -- I would show you a picture, but it is downstairs and I just don't feel like digging out the camera). It allows her freedom of movement but prevents her from jumping by stopping her from fully extending her legs. I have started taking her in the back yard after her run in the morning and letting her spend a bit of time off-lead back there with the harness. Again, so far, so good -- she has not even tried to jump the wall again. At our next training session, we are going to test the true freedom of the harness and work with Cura on Rick and Heather's property. Hopefully, she will want to let go and run full out for a bit so we can verify that the harness does really give her complete freedom except for the jumping. We will also be working off-lead.
Cura is responding well to the recall using the whistle -- provided that she is on the extend-a-lead and distracted. We think we may have worked out why she is not having the same response when off-lead or inside -- only time will tell if our strategy to solve this glitch will work. But, the main reason for the whistle recall is to get her to come back if she is distracted -- and that seems to be pretty solid -- most of the time she is even enthusiastic about returning (thanks to that 'special' spot she LOVES to have scratched).
Mondays are going to be another 'official' training session -- at least on those days that we can make it. The class is smaller and the venue is larger and more varied with additional challenges. Cura is so comfortable at the usual class location that even the noisy heater cycling on for the first time didn't really phase her. She looked up and tilted her head, then went back to sleep! Yes, she is finding the whole thing VERY challenging -- not (at least not until another dog is allowed to get withing a couple of feet -- then she is not happy)! So, it is time to give her other environments to practice in -- though the Sunday classes have more dogs in a smaller place so they are still very good for getting her used to working with other dogs around.
We had a bit of a surprise this morning -- and Cura did great! We were out for her morning walk/run and while we were in the field, a jack rabbit bolted from cover about 20 feet in front of us. Cura's initial reaction was to take a few bounds after the rabbit (she is on the extend-a-lead for this portion of her morning activities). But she immediately stopped moving forward at my command, pranced in place, and came right back to my side when I called. Despite the fact that she clearly wanted to 'play' with the bunny, she stuck with me. She may have been a bit bouncy and barked a couple of times -- but she did what I told her. When she was released to continue walking, she was obviously working hard at ignoring the direction that the jack rabbit had gone. Excellent self-restraint -- well done!
Sometimes, I think that the little successes are the best successes!