Like I always say, I just need to head out with the dogs to get blog ideas. So, yesterday I decided to take Elsa out alone. It is good for her and I to visit the parks without Luke. We got to the park and there was no one else there; I love when that happens. Out comes the chuck it and I fire away. I thought it would be good to work the entire park so we head down to the other end. After returning with the ball in her mouth; Elsa looked past me as her ears went up. This was the first piece of information in the sequence of events. I turned quickly to see what she had seen and it was a rabbit. She thought about it for just a split second; dropped the ball and charged full speed. I called her name in vain. There is always a point when you realize that your attempts to stop what is happening are futile. This was one of those moments. She was gone and she was not coming back until she caught the rabbit; or at least that was what she thought.
I put the Chuck it in my belt and got a hustle on. Elsa looked up at me for an instant and I called out "hey!" I didn't want to use "come;" I knew she wouldn't come. She thought about coming when I yelled "hey," but went back to her rabbit pursuit. I was mad now, not as mad as I needed to be though so I put on my mad face. I knew full well that this was a great training moment. So I put on my best serious posture along with the face and made a b-line to my rabbit crazed girl.
She was at the other end of the park so I had plenty of 'think' time. Often you don't have 'think' time so things just play out as hey unfold. I was walking fast, there was the chance that she might try to get under the fence after the rabbit. As I approached Elsa I yelled out a loud "NO;" I wanted a clear association to the word and what was about to play out. (More on NO in another blog.) With all of my time to think on the way to Elsa I knew that I had to grab a hold of her; at least for the initial point of getting her off of the rabbit. If I just tried to shoosh her away like I would on a typical non compliance recall she would just skirt around me after the critter. So with my posture upright and rigid, I donned my mad face and grabbed a hold of her harness. I turned on a dime and head back towards the xterra.
I said nothing else and let my body do the speaking. She knew, she knew that I was mad. Now, if she had had a collar on I would have only grabbed for an instant and then had to work on shooshing or hooked her leash up immediately. I do not like collar grabs as they can really create a negative effect. I walked abruptly; with serious definition in every foot step. I soon hooked up her leash as we continued onto the xterra. Every bit of me wanted to head to the other end and continue our chuck it fun; but a lesson was being taught, right then and there. I had to leave, she had to have consequences. I didn't want to end the fun but it had to end. Elsa had crossed a line that needed consequences.
Was I shocked that she went after a rabbit? My ever so picture perfect girl? No, I was actually happy. This was very important information that I needed. We've been around rabbits before that have only drawn her attention for a second. Perhaps because they are usually at the end of a bush and dive under out of reach. This one was out in the open and running a good distance. It was more than she could handle and she caved. So we had a lesson before us which was perfectly timed. She was not in danger of being run over; there were no other people around so this was the perfect place and time to have this lesson.
Once we got to the car I utterly only "get in." My tone still stern along with my body. That is when it ended, lesson over. Typically a lesson is played out with feedback. Instant, a reaction following an action. This lesson carried on longer as the final statement was the vehicle. Game over, fun over. Knowing my girl as I do; the event will have a lasting impact. This is exactly what I need. There will always be something to chase; things that are very hard to ignore but a dog with drive must learn to ignore somethings. Elsa's drive is nothing compared to what Tilley's was; this is a walk in the park.