Pup’s a challenge
When you live on a lifestyle block it’s very easy for your dog to become your best mate.
You’re with them all day and you do most things together. You find yourself having meaningful conversations and there’s no problem with that as long as you’re not waiting for intelligent answers.
Our two pups had settled into the routine on our property but Akira, our Shepherd/Husky, decided it was time to start challenging her boundaries.
She was super smart so her craftiness and ingenuity were pretty impressive. Milo, our rescued Retriever, stuck with mum so he was never a problem.
I worked with Akira to try and train her. We did puppy preschool, adult obedience and I subscribed to an online training program.
She progressed reasonably well but if she caught the scent of a rabbit she’d take off and there’d be no stopping her.
This wasn’t a huge problem until the day that she raced off, dived over an embankment and found herself on the road.
I gave chase and rounded her up fairly easily. After that I decided to bring in the big guns and employ the services of a dog trainer.
He came and showed me some invaluable techniques and suggested it would take a few weeks to a month for the training to ‘stick’.
I knew I’d work with Akira and we’d get there. But I didn’t suspect how much pain we’d have in the interim.That afternoon she jumped the embankment and took off again. A frantic search up and down our street ensued.
She finally came back and I spent the rest of the afternoon erecting a temporary fence. It was rudimentary but when Akira ran up there the next day she didn’t challenge it and I employed the training technique for enforcing boundaries and sternly gave her the ‘back’ command. It worked.
Lulled into a false sense of security I continued to work on training.
She was out walking the property with my mum and decided to take off after a scent through the bottom fence. Unfortunately, this backs onto a railway line. Mum asked for help and everyone rallied. Somehow our neighbour got wind of the emergency and came to our aid, bless her.
Then our friends a street away pitched in too. My poor husband spent an hour roaming around the neighbourhood, calling. I was out at the time and receiving text updates. I couldn’t get home fast enough to help and felt useless.
Finally she was found in a paddock miles away. I went down the next day and reinforced the fence as best I could. Then our fencing contractor came out and did it properly.
I invested in a long retractable lead to continue the training in a controlled manner. And we accepted that our little Husky’s natural hunting and roaming instinct was a lot stronger than we’d formerly appreciated.
Natalie Pitfield’s adventurous puppy .