Kip, the Aussie pup, graduated from obedience class with average marks and now is ready for anything.
Or, so she says.
Thanks to Dr. Cynthia Reynold’s sage advice, my top priority now is making her safe around horses. Then, to make her trail savvy.
She’s learned “out” which means to get out of the paddock and away from the horses.
She can “sit” and “stay” from a distance with voice and hand signals (closed fist for sit and open hand for “stay,” like you’d see from a school crossing guard)
But when left to her own devices, it’s darn hard for her to resist nipping at the horses’ heels. She can’t help herself, so strong is her instinctual drive, especially when they’re the least bit energized.
I remember another expert, Martin Black, saying (to paraphrase) that the best trainers work to suppress instinct without taking the life out of the animal.
What a challenge!
This weekend, I took Kip on two trial runs as Ride-Along Dog. I picked Shea, the most tolerant and slow-footed horse. Armed with treats and a squirt bottle, we walked and jogged around the pasture.
Anytime she heel-nipped, she got squirted and a “leave it!” call from me. When she simply jogged along side us, I’d regularly toss her treats and say “Good Girl!”
She started out as a circling, jazzed-up nipping machine, but quickly progressed to a relaxed, jogging companion.
Shea didn’t seem too impressed but I’m excited about these developments.