It's not a straight line...
After our previous successes in the lane I thought Luke, my rescue greyhound, had it sussed. My expectation then, when I came up to the yard after a weekend away, was that he would come up to the field to get Bronson with me, no problems. Sure enough he walked up the lane behind me beautifully and came through the gates behind me. On the way back to the yard however things went rather awry. As I locked the gate he ran on ahead of us and wouldn’t come back to heel. Then a lady in a car came up the lane and he went into a state where he wasn’t listening at all and was just wandering around her car with a vacant look on his face.
Pip has taught me before, that if you stop your car for an animal you are effectively teaching it that it can control cars. This is setting them up for problems with traffic in the future. So I asked the lady if she could keep coming, albeit slowly. Thankfully she was very kind and did as I had asked. Luke did move out of the way but he still wouldn’t come to heel and even my previous trick of turning around and walking the other way didn’t work! Another car came and I was by this point hugely frustrated and frankly wanted to strangle him. We made it back to the yard in one piece but with Luke running on ahead of us which is not good at all! That said he followed behind us through the gate perfectly…
I was absolutely fuming! Having done it perfectly before, I knew he could do it and the fact that he had completely ignored me around the cars was dangerous and maddening. I’m just lucky that the drivers around Wellington are so fantastic! Before I met Pip I would have decided that it just wasn’t going to work and that he wouldn’t be able to come up to the field with me anymore. He would have to stay tied up at the yard. This would be a shame as dogs love to have a job and coming up and down to the field is part of their job at Pippsway! One of the many things I love about Pip is that she gives animals opportunites. Just because something doesn’t go right, she doesn’t just give up. She finds a different way to set them up for success and keeps working on whatever it is.
Pip explained that, just like us, making changes is hard for animals and when they are tired or having an off day it’s easier to default back to their old behaviour. Improvement is not a straight line and actually the general trend is what is important. Overall are things improving? If the answer is yes then all well and good.
So instead of admitting defeat I kept bringing him up to the field with me. We tried several times on and off lead and each time there was some calamity. Once he slipped his collar, another time he shot past me where the road widened. Thankfully there were a few occasions where there were two of us leading horses up to the field and it was so much easier to orchestrate ourselves so that Luke couldn’t get past or lead us down the lane. Thanks Nicki and Imogen!
Today was the first time I had tried it on my own since then and he was perfect! I am over the moon!! He did go ahead whilst I locked the gate but when I called him he came to heel and followed me down the lane. I’m so pleased I didn’t give up!
Luke had been completely freaked out by all the fireworks over the previous weekend so whether it was that which had upset his apple cart or something else we’ll never know. As we walked in a line today up past a car that had stopped for us, and the driver stuck her hand out the window to pet Luke, I felt so proud of my two boys. All three of us are working hard at the moment and it was a great feeling to be back in unison.