Monday, May 18, 2015

Proofing the Pups

What's nice about having the pups on the Mini-Educator collar from E-Collar Technologies is that the pups themselves are a walking advertisement for the system. Last night I walked up the lawn of the wooded park I take the dogs to most days, and there were a couple of young people who had just stopped playing Frisbee. The pups stayed with me until I got close and the people remarked at how cute they were. I smiled and told the pups they could visit and they flew over to get love-bombed by the hipsters. A few minutes of that, and I clucked a bit and the dogs picked up and left and trotted right with me, big smiles on their faces. Yes, it felt good!

We had not gone more than 100 yards when we rounded up to see the two deer, above, in a field about 80 feet away. The dogs, of course were off-leash, but I did not have the slightest concern that they would bolt the deer. The pups and I sat on a perfectly placed park bench and watched the deer together. All was calm.

We picked up and rounded down the old farm road another 100 yards and almost walked into this buck with his velvet antlers just starting to come in.  This deer was very close, and there was no vegetation between us. Misto rose up on his toes just a little, but all I had to do was say "nah" to him, and he steadied up like a bird dog told not to break point. The deer, the dogs, and I had a little Mexican stand off for a few minutes, and then the deer bounded away, and the dogs and I carried along.

The treat bag is used continuously throughout our walks. I cluck, and the dogs round up for a treat. I tap the collar, and the dogs round back for a treat. I ask them to sit and the dogs get a treat. I ask them to jump up on the bench with me and act like civilized animals, and they get a treat.

I probably give out 70 or more pieces of kibble for every tap on the collar, and the tap is so low it is really only a tap on the shoulder to remind them we are on a focused mission.

The e-collar is an electronic leash that can communicate a great deal more, at a much longer distance, with impeccable timing, and no drama or flapping of arms or yanking. The efficiency of communication is such that I use it less and less as the voice is now paid attention to, and I find myself looking for a reason to tap the dogs in order to tighten up some small part of the regime.  This is basic proofing -- the repetition of a command a 1,000 times or more, in a wide variety of locations and with distractions, so it becomes as fluid and as reliable as gravity.

The treat bag is rewards, the ecollar is reminder, the leash is carried.

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