Hello and welcome to the penultimate edition of Phoebes Story!
In last weeks edition you read about Phoebe coming back to Scotland, (it is the home of Utonagans originally, so it makes sense) and she learned to walk on the extendable lead.
For about 6 months of us being back, the walks were gradually becoming more and more regular. A walk around the field using the extendable lead was fast becoming daily, enjoyable walks. Even dogs we were encountering had to be really close or off lead to bother her enough to act out.
I’d started getting phoebe to respond to sounds rather than words. When we had a trainer she had taught us to growl our displeasure at Phoebe, and she responds very ‘well’ to it, like she really knows she is in trouble. Building on this, I introduced recall by clicking (tongue) and if she is getting a little carried away, trying to push first through a door for example, warning noises, the tune of uh-uh, ‘hey hey’ has become our phrase. If she is getting a bit far away, or scrabbling to rush somewhere, then hey hey, slows her down.
She is listening!
We are night owls, whether thats natural or not, it’s how are lives are structured right now, so walking at midnight isn’t much of a stretch. It’s the equivalent of a 9pm stroll before bed.
There is a great walking path, sort of, that basically loops round from our house all the way back again, some of it past houses, but mostly just grassy area or roads. A 20minute loop, perfect. It’s a well lit area, good paths and no-one is ever about. At most there will be a cat or the odd passing car.
This became a regular nightly walk. She knows now, come about midnight and she will lie by the door.
My partner especially has been itching to let her try being off-lead for the longest time. Even occasionally dropping her lead while walking on the field, to see how she would act. It made me nervous, but she was well behaved, mostly.
Slowly, but surely, her lead was used less and less on her nightly walks. For the first few months of trying, her lead would be on but draped over her back, just in case, and occasionally, especially by the empty roads, I’d grab her lead. Nervous parent.
When we started these walks, I realised, we’d never really walked her by roads, due to the avoiding dogs situation. I was keen to at least try to instil some road safety in her, even though there were no cars. I get her to sit at the edge of the crossing, sometimes give paw, she gets a stroke, then we are off, she waits till I say come, or click.
We’e encountered cats, rabbits, foxes (baby foxes tried to follow us home!) a fair few cars, and one dog walker. None of which have caused any real problems…the baby foxes were the hardest!
It makes me so happy that she gets to do this now. She trots along beside us, investigating sniffs, occasionally she goes ahead or gets a little behind, but as soon as she realises she is quick to join us again.
It’s hard to imagine that she is the same dog we got from the shelter three years ago.
I hope you’ve enjoyed Phoebes Story this week, and perhaps learned some new tips for dealing with your dog.
Catch you next Monday for the final instalment of Phoebes Story!