We’ve had snow here since Friday night, and it is really beautiful outside. My mum and I took the dogs for a walk in it today. O.J was let off his lead because there was no traffic and he loved it. Dougal refused to walk and had to be carried part of the way. His paws must have been freezing though because the snow had caked in around his feet by the time we got home. Ouch!
The snow created a good opportunity for me to practice obedience with O.J. It sends him completely crazy, and he will run constantly until you put his lead back on. If we’re out for a walk his recall is almost perfect, but in our garden he can be a nightmare. Yesterday he ran down the steps to the neighbours house for the first time in his life, because she had left out food for the birds. She has cats and feeds the dog down the road as well, so I was hoping O.J would never discover this. He hasn’t until now! He ran down today and completely refused to come back when I called him.
My mum thinks I should just always take him out on a long lead but I want him to learn not to go down there and to come as soon as he’s called. We did lots of obedience exercises to remind him of this. I call him and make him sit at my right hand side. I will walk a few metres away, then call him until he comes and sits at the same place again. I let him run free for a minute then call him again. I rarely use food to motivate him but he gets an unexpected treat now and again, just to make sure he keeps coming back.
The excitement of the snow is just so much for him and its not surprising he forgets to listen to me, but it was a good reminder for me that he can get a bit naughty sometimes.
The snow is fine because if its bad enough nobody can go anywhere and there’s nothing you can do about it. The trouble starts when the snow melts and we’re left with icy freezing conditions that are difficult to work in with a guide dog. The dog is trained to stay on the footpath and not walk on the road unless you are crossing over. Footpaths here never get gritted so walking anywhere is impossible.
How do other guide dog owners manage when they have to go somewhere? I keep meaning to try out a pair of
which might help me to walk more easily. I know that O.J would have a fit if I put dog boots on him, and I wouldn’t blame him!
Icy weather and no walks means that bordum will eventually set in. I’m lucky that O.J has lots of space and toys inside and Dougal to keep him company. He is very relaxed, but by the third day of no walks he gets restless. Looks like we’ll be doing lots of training to keep his mind active if the cold weather keeps up. He’ll be learning to read soon enough 🙂