Weekly Dog Training Update (Sept 24)

I know! Do not fall out of your chair. We actually have some dog-training updates to share. I cannot even begin to describe what’s what behind the scenes that continues to keep us from our regular progress. BUT, I have two out-in-the-world updates this week.

Egress of the Wildlife

Hunting season began a few weeks ago with bow hunting. I believe some elk and deer licenses active now allow for guns as well. That means we’re seeing the annual egress of wildlife out of the forests around us and into our valley (or neighborhood, if you will).

These lovely creatures often seek safety near the houses … since in most cases they cannot be shot there. Granted, many people hunt on private land, including their own, so it’s not a 100% guarantee of safety, but the deer and elk bucks in particular now visit us at close range almost daily.

It’s terrific for wildlife watching, but not great for dog training. As I mentioned in our Never Shock a Puppy post about loose leash walking, Lilly is quite keen on chasing these big critters.

We saw these two one morning this week, right at the top of the driveway as they crossed the road to seek shelter behind a neighbor’s house on the mountain. It isn’t the greatest photo, but you get the idea.

We saw 5-6 big bucks Thursday morning as well, but I didn’t have my camera with me. Lilly mostly smiled, wagged, and strained at the leash until they ran up the hill and out of our reach.

I had to stop and wait out her pulling twice before the bucks got far enough away that Lilly could regain her thinking self.

I realize most of you do not have such distractions on your walks, but I use pretty much the same method with any other animals we see — domesticated and wild alike.

The Corner Gauntlet

Longtime readers know that Lilly and I run a gauntlet at one particular crossroads twice during our normal, 3-mile, out-and-back walk. Houses on each side of the street have two dogs each — one set is adequately fenced; one set is not and for years now has taken to chasing, barking, snapping at us.

With the fenced dogs, we simply cross the road so that Lilly doesn’t have them barking right at us mere feet away. BUT, we can only do that if the other dogs are NOT outside … otherwise, they see us as a threat and chase us down.

We had trouble with these loose dogs recently, when I miscalculated their boundaries (or reactive threshold). I thought I’d given them enough space so that they wouldn’t chase us, but I was wrong.

So, when we crested a nearby hill this week and saw these two dogs milling about in the road while their elderly owner got his newspaper, Lilly and I stopped much higher on the hill … about double the distance as last time.

I marked up this photo to show the location of their driveway as well as the two spots where Lilly and I stopped to wait them out. (I marked the driveway with a vertical orange line, and our two stopping points with horizontal ones.)

I’m confident the dogs who chase us knew we were there, but they did not venture up the road toward us. We had to wait several minutes, and my biggest fear is that the fenced dogs in the house to our right in this photo would realize we were there and come bark at us.

So, it seems, I now know the right distance to keep Lilly safe from these particular dogs … because it’s really sad to have to keep a keen eye out for whether or not the newspaper is still in the box so that I know how dangerous it is to pass this intersection each day.

I would walk right in the middle of the road so that we had distance from both sets of dogs, but there are FAR too many people who drive FAR too fast on our rural roads.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Deborah Flick - September 27, 2010

Sadie and I used to have the same problem with a couple of dogs up where we live. Thankfully their family moved. It’s a really bad situation for a fearful dog. I hated running that gauntlet and I know you and Lilly do also.

MarthaAndMe - September 26, 2010

Well you gave me a terrible flashback with your corner gauntlet. I used to have to walk about 1/2 a mile to get on the school bus and had to pass a property where a weird guy lived in an old bus (yes really) and had a huge pack of dogs (ok it seemed huge). They would chase me and bark and growl. It was terrifying. I’m sorry you and Lilly have to go through this. I wish people would be thoughtful of others and control their animals.

Sam - September 25, 2010

AC, I am a paper girl.. I wish Kona could meet me so I could be the nice, not-so-scary paper girl who does all the right things to make a fearful dog feel better! 🙂

(I avoid paper-people with Marge, too!)

And Roxanne, I totally get the need for strategy when trying to avoid dogs. The big field across from my house is really a blessing for walking Marge, but dogs are offleash in there all the time. Thankfully, they aren’t guarding property or anything like that so they rarely put on a display, but I never let them come up to us.

AC - September 25, 2010

Haha! I’m one of those sad folks who has to keep a keen eye on the newspaper! The paperboy can send Kona into a blind panic, so I don’t even think about trying to walk her in the neighborhood if the paper hasn’t been delivered yet. If the paper has been delivered on my street, we can make it to the corner, where I have to look for papers on the next block. *sigh*

Susan - September 24, 2010

We encounter wildlife here in the densely populated ‘burbs, too. 🙂


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