|Barked: Sat Feb 25, '12 11:55am PST |
|Personally, with a puppy, I'd NOT use a long line. Tap into the puppiness that still remains. At 4 months, I'd imagine him not yet being bold enough to stray far. Try finding an area where there aren't dogs or go at a time where there are less distractions and walk with the pup off leash. Get to know for yourself the pup's habits. You need training just as much as your pup, and recall really isn't going to be stellar any time soon. So, waiting for it may just make it worse imo.
Having your pup get used to HAVING to keep an eye on you is the key. Using a long line from the start can hinder that, especially if you, the human, become so reliant on it.
Hide n seek is awesome! The pup needs to know to keep an eye on you and to keep with you. That is more important than ANYTHING. I found the hardest thing of all is you learning to let go and give them that freedom. You want to guide them or call them. But you need to let them figure out on their own. If they start to wander, let them. With puppies, most will usually look up and realize their mistake and come running back to you. It's also nice to just keep walking. Don't stop every time for the pup. You stop when they stop, and they learn that they don't need to keep an eye on you...you're following them.
What I like to do is let them do their thing then suddenly change directions...maybe go off trail or down a different trail while the pup is off ahead or sniffing something. Once I start off in the new direction, call the pup. That way, calling them means they get to explore a new area. The reward becomes exploration.
One thing to keep in mind though, through my experience, once a pup or any dog becomes really familiar with a spot, they will tend to wander farther and farther. Imo, it's not really that bad, just a measure of their confidence. They tend to walk further ahead of you or make less notions of looking for you. They know their way around. But if they've got the notion to keep an eye on you ingrained, it shouldn't be a problem. They'll check in...just not as often as before.
But, I can't stress enough that the biggest hold up almost always seems to be the human, not the dog. Being able to let go. You can start small to help ease your mind. Let the pup off for 5-10 minutes at a time then go back on leash if it helps. The more experience off the leash pup has, the better though.
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