|Barked: Mon Oct 8, '12 9:04am PST |
|Well, since that pretty much describes most of my life with dogs, no I don't believe it's too stimulating. As long as you can keep your dog safe and the animals in the reserve/preserve safe and not overly stressed, there shouldn't be a problem. It can actually be a very good training opportunity as you've got natural rewards all around you that your dog wants to get closer to (part of Premack as mentioned here already)
I hike with Lu on water collection forays all the time. She's got an intense prey drive (she comes from hunting terrier stock) but I've been working on it since she was able to walk with me in puppyhood. I can call her off hopping bunnies in my yard and heel past them. But she's three now, that obviously wasn't always the case. Squirrels are trickier on hikes, but after much work and consistency we're almost where I want to be. That said, I cannot vouch that she wouldn't chase a squirrel across a road. So, know your dog and keep within safe limits. Especially this time of year when they're darting about gathering nuts all over, I make sure that we're only offleash many many acres from any road. I've got more chance of a safe recall that way.
I've posted before about those darned killdeer that would divebomb us and then go into their wounded bird routine on the ground. Talk about dog temptation! Our favorite hikes took us past their nesting grounds close enough to alert the birds, but not close enough to damage any nests. I almost stopped going there until I realized that we were both going to have to learn how to deal with it or lose out on a fave activity. I would hold the lead and reward her for anything like looking at me, calm behavior, a sit etc. by moving forward. I was thrilled when we could walk past a killdeer display with merely a bark and passing interest. A combination of exposure and training did work.
What I've found that really has helped us is that I've been asking for a sit as a default request behavior since she was small. When she spots something that she wants to investigate she MUST sit before we head in that direction. Any pulling results in heading in the opposite direction or a complete stop depending on where we are. NEVER does it take her closer to where she wants to be and the faster she complies, the faster we get to the desired place. That helps with impulse control and she's a strong 80 pounder, so it helps my shoulders, too.
Always keep in mind that final behavior you want and work towards building a routine that will get your dog there. Rewarding for calm behavior before moving toward the stimuli etc. It does take a lot of patience but it's very rewarding when the two of you can do things together that you both enjoy. Good luck!
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