I mentioned in the last post that Cura's next training session was going to take place on Rick and Heather's property and we were going to be putting her no-jump harness to a serious test by letting her frolic, 'be a dog', and do some off-lead work. With play-dates suspended until warmer weather prevails, it had been awhile since Cura had been given the opportunity to have some free-play. She gets physical and mental exercise almost daily, but it is structured and controlled rather than time that she can just do what she wants. Now, because of her weather reactions and jumping ability, she had only had short periods of time off-lead during play-dates in the past, but at least she was spending time outside. Even though she was on an extend-a-lead, she was the one who got to decide what she did -- if she wanted to dig . . . she could dig, if she wanted to sniff . . . she could sniff. On top of that, she got to interact with other dogs in a safe environment.
Having said all that, last Thursday was the first REAL play session she has had since coming home. For all but the introduction/reunion period in the beginning of the session and the refocusing period at the end, Cura was off-lead. The no-jump harness worked well -- though she never even made a move to jump the fence. It is possible that she just didn't have any desire to jump, but until I see otherwise, I am content that the harness is doing its job. For almost two hours, Cura had the run of the arena. Of course, she did A LOT of sniffing! She also dug for China! I wish I had brought my camera! There were some pretty hilarious moments when all you saw was Cura's backside sticking up from the hole with dirt being flung out behind her -- tail wagging. A couple of Rick and Heather's dogs ended up getting dirt showers courtesy of Cura's enthusiastic excavation. Next time I will bring my camera even if I DO think we will be working. If nothing else, maybe I can get Rick or Heather to take some pics/video of us working as a team.
My 'job' during the training session this last time was to get more comfortable having Cura off-lead (building on the whole 'trust' thing with positive experiences), keeping track of her while carrying on a lively conversation, and working on her recall when she was either out of my sight or messing about in an area that was not a doggie free-play area, like the wood or compost piles. For the most part, I did pretty well. I really enjoyed seeing Cura having fun -- she obviously needed it.
When we got home Cura crashed! Zonked out immediately . . . we had to really work to get her to rouse long enough to eat her dinner -- after which she went right back to sleep. Once we headed off to bed that night, I don't think she moved at all until the morning. When I got up on Friday, I got this bleary eyed look before she dropped back off to sleep. Seriously, the only things that moved were her eyelids! We did go for a run, but she was not as enthusiastic about it as she normally is and had slowed down and was ready to come home much earlier than normal. When we got home, she went straight upstairs to lay on her soft cushy bed -- didn't even wait for breakfast! After calling her back down several times, I finally brought her bed downstairs so that she wouldn't have to lay on the (carpeted) floor, since she obviously wanted some comfort. She ended up sleeping most of the day! I don't mean dozing . . . I mean hard core, snoring, dead to the world, sleeping.
I think she used muscles she didn't know she had! Even with all the exercise she gets, Thursday was not only a day of fun and freedom, it was a great workout! Here is hoping we can do it again when time permits.