Our boy is doing so well these days. It’s been another week with many positive doggy meetings.
I’m exhausted. Theo dog is exhausted. His head is asleep on my foot and we’re both quite content. Over the Christmas break, Kim and I had a chance to reflect on our goals for the year ahead, and also to think about what’s working and could be better. We (ok, mostly Kim) spends a lot of time walking the dog. This tends to be an hour or two in the morning (on average somewhere between 5-10km), the same again in the afternoon usually around 2pm. I’ll also give him a wander around the block about 10pm. If we don’t give him lots of exercise, he’ll be like a child who wants to play and ends up misbehaving. In Theo’s case, a good indicator is if he barks at people walking past the house. If he doesn’t feel the need to bark, then we’ve got the balance right.
As you may imagine, this takes a lot of time and energy. The way to really tire him out is through training where his mind is challenged as much as his physical fitness. Kim does this with him a lot more than me, mainly because I forget. However, with the new year, we both thought we really should put all the lessons we’ve learned into practice.
This morning’s walk was fantastic. I had a bag full of kibble (measured from his breakfast) and a small bag of cheese for high value treats. After 5 or so minutes into our walk, I would call his attention. Throughout the walk, we did the following:
- Down (lie down)
- Touch (Where you hold the treat in one hand, and hold out the other hand to his side. On the command “touch”, Theo touches the hand without the biscuit. Once he does this I say “yes” immediately, and then give him the treat from the other hand).
- “High Five” (Theo gives you a high five with his paw to your hand. This may need to be renamed as “punch” (ahem)).
- Wait (He sits and then I call him to me with the command “come”)
- Stay (He sits, I walk off and then return).
- Heel (close walk to heel)
- Follow (similar to heel, but more relaxed. Kim showed me this, where she will walk slowly, or fast, and he will keep up. It means that he pays more attention to us).
- “Take it” – I give him a toy, or a stick or a glove and he holds it in his mouth.
- “Give” – he releases whatever’s in his mouth.
So, we had a lot of fun and were out there for about an hour and a half. We met about 12 other dogs, and everything was happy and positive. It’s now Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting here with a very sleepy Theo, a cup of coffee and watching a dreadful 1978 movie called “Zoltan, Hound of Dracula”. I always forget that any movie with anything to do with dogs seems to involve the dogs attacking things, or the dogs dying (or both). I think they used a lot of peanut butter to help with all the doggy lip-curling. The German Shepherd puppy that becomes a vampire was hilarious (it even features in the trailer I’ve linked below, right at then end).