If you look closely, you might just about see Betty racing into the distance on our training walk this morning...
The handsome fellow in the foreground is one of Betty's 'Real Life' training class pals. We were out first thing this morning with our group, training in a beautiful local nature reserve, made even more lovely by the fabulous autumn colour on display (not to mention so much more fun than training in a village hall or on a boring field!)
The dogs worked really hard on obedience skills today, practising polite lead walking along a noisy road before even entering the nature reserve, then focusing on maintaining a series of challenging 'sit stays' against the almost overwhelming distractions of the nature reserve. By the time the group was eventually allowed a free run, all five dogs were well ready to rampage! Betty flew threw the trees, tore up and down steep brambly banks and chased excitedly around with her new pal Charlie, a sweet little chocolate cockerpoo. I don't mind admitting, there would have been a time when this harem-scarem, out of sight running, would make me anxious but not today, because despite her high levels of excitement, Betty checked in with me regularly and happily raced back for her recalls and a treat or two.
I am so pleased with Betty's progress in exciting environments. When we first began 'Real Life' training a couple of years ago, I could barely get Betty to put her bum onto the ground in a sit because her excitement/stress levels were so high, let alone get her to sit and stay off lead until released for play. Now she sits politely waiting for her release cue before charging off to play, giving me the opportunity to release her safely and calmly and also to call her back quickly if needed. She also checks in regularly while she is off lead, making sure she knows where I am and most importantly of all, she pays close attention to the whistle and recalls promptly.
I love seeing my girls having fun so much on their walks as it is an absolute joy to watch them running at pelt in a natural environment. Needless to say, off lead runs should always be undertaken as safely as possible. I highly recommend training classes/group walks as a great way to achieve the level of cooperation and understanding, essential for keeping your dog safe off lead. They are great for socialising dogs (and their owners) too!