Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A "Leave-It" breakthrough

So, the other day we made some real progress on the path toward a reliable "leave-it" command. "Leave-it" is a really really useful tool for re-directing a dog like Hoagie. We've been working on it for a while, and am finally getting closer. First, however, let me give you a little background on the situation.

We believe Hoagie is a "Borgi" or a Border Collie/Welsh Corgi cross. Because we got him at the County Animal Shelter, we can't be sure. We don't know if he was the product of a local ranch dog litter or if someone paid a lot for him as a "designer mutt." He's a great dog, but sometimes he can be a bit of a handful.  We think his original parents may not have known what they were getting themselves into with this cute little guy.

 All of this has given me a really reactive dog with a high prey drive.  Hoagie's perfect storm of high vigilance apparently lets him see things a little differently.  Now, I know that mice and lizards like our wood pile and a nearby bush outside our house, but I think Hoagie sees something even more thrilling...

Apparently a very exciting drama plays out in Mousopolis and Lizardtopia, in which the evil Lizard Overloards, led by the cruel Lizard King, decide which of the downtrodden Mice People are to be sacrificed to the Green-Eyed Fang-Toothed Demon in the garage.

This is apparently better than even the best squirrel-based dramas.  Getting to check in on it elicits squeals of excitement every time we go by the bush and wood pile.

But I digress.  The main point is that, finally after months of trying to work on a leave-it command, Hoagie was able to tear himself away and enjoy the rain of treats that awaited him when he came back to stand quietly next to me.
I wasn't entirely sure he was going to come when I said "leave-it," but my gamble paid off, and Hoagie has been much more reliable about taking a break from the excitement.  He's by no means perfect with this command yet, but I'll take little successes when I can!

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