Obedience session twelve and according to our instructor Kevin, Polly is 'getting there'. I'm not sure where 'there' is exactly, but it's nice to hear we're en route!
After our recent recall successes, we took the plunge this time and ditched our long training lead on the group walk. Despite the newly added distraction of a rather exhuberant intact male rottweiler peeing hither and thither (including on poor Polly's head!) Polly remembered to return to me when I called - not exactly a military precision reaction by any stretch, but by the time I'd shouted 'come' three times, the penny dropped and my bouncy girl happily left her pals to race back to me for cheese and praise ... Cheddar cheese bribery is definitely the way forward. We've also been trying out a few carefully chosen off lead recalls at our local playing fields lately and in the main, Polly has been pretty good at returning, so my overall confidence is definitely growing ... it's such a lovely buzz to have her race over to me because she wants to come back to 'mum'!
Polly has also been walking in the woods with her pals Molly and Dudley again this week, which is a real pleasure for us both. It's great to see the formal obedience work in school weaving into our fun time out and about together ... and so much fun to watch the dogs playing.
I remember moaning a few weeks ago because I was felt as though I'd been pulling Polly from pillar to post around the training field ... I was pretty frustrated with school at that point but determined not to be defeated. Well, I am happy to say even I can now clearly see progress in Polly's heel work and it does at last feel as if my control is taking shape. It definitely seems as though we now understand more of what is asked of us and at last, are becoming a team! We even managed to heel walk a course with other dogs, with me holding the lead in just my left hand (rather than using both hands) while Polly responded to my commands to sit, down, turn etc. Who knows, maybe we'll try tucking the lead into my belt for a little while next time and see if I can maintain her focus without lead reminders.
This week, for the first time, I actually felt confident enough to encourage Polly to complete a little agility circuit of three or four activities, without me clutching her lead for dear life and she managed it! She loves to run through the tunnels and can now jump over low hurdles, through the window and the hanging tyre. She also walks steadily over the A-frame and small see-saw. All in all, Polly completed her tasks pretty well, never once attempting to race over to her pals while they were working, which was a big step forward. In fact the only distraction we suffered this session was rabbit poo - ah well, I guess you can't win 'em all!