Lately I’ve been trying to train our very hyper one-year-old RESCUE dog, Precious, a Husky/Border Collie mix. We’re working on safe boundaries. Although I’ve had ten years of experience working with some of the most difficult pups and aggressive dogs, Precious has been one of my greatest challenges. The problem; she has lived on the streets all of her life and shows many signs of being abused.
When we first took her into our home she paced restlessly back and forth from one door to the other. Going outside on the chain was another story. At first, she wouldn’t leave the porch. I had to step outside with her and coax her down the steps and into the yard. Now, after three months of being in our home, the restlessness has stopped, and with just a verbal coaxing from inside the house she will now go out into the yard by herself.
She loves to bolt when the front door is opened. She’s been taught to stay back from the door, but every once in awhile when the door is left open, out she runs. Although she has mastered all the advanced obedience commands and training, she still has a wild nature about her and runs the first chance she gets. As her foster parent I fear that she will run into the path of a car at some point if we cannot establish safe boundaries.
Right now I’m working with her on our yard boundaries. I’m walking her along our property line on a long loose lead. I leave the lead on the ground for the most part, but I’m prepared to grab and give a correction if she should start to step out of bounds. I’m also using a bag of treats and a ball to teach her through a fun play time of fetch in the yard. I throw the ball, tell her to “get it” and “bring it”. She used to fetch fine, but liked to play keep away when she brought the ball back. Last nigh,t I finally had a breakthrough. I began giving her a treat every time she would bring the ball back, then, I taught her to drop it at my feet, and then sit. I also began shouting “Come” sometimes while she was chasing the ball, and as soon as she ran to me I would deliver a treat. Now, she drops whatever she’s doing and runs right to me when I call her to come.
However, last night when it was time to come into the house, I walked up the steps and opened the door. She wasn’t having any part of that and took off running, this time with no lead on; she bolted out of the yard. I tried every command I knew, but the only thing that worked was when I said, “Bye-Bye.” Hearing that word, she charged back into the yard at the speed of light and was in the van in seconds.
My husband and I took her for a short ride, put her lead back on of course, and let her have one more run before finally leading her into the house where she was given a special treat. We will continue to work on safe boundaries with her daily until we earn her trust and she willingly comes in the house. Until then, we will always keep a long loose lead in tact, just in case.
Training takes time, especially when fostering an abused, wild dog. But establishing safe boundaries are a must for every dog no matter how well trained we think they are. Better to be safe than sorry.
Have a safe, good week!
Lisa Freeman is an AKC Evaluator, Dog Trainer, and Certified Pet Therapist from Owosso, Michigan. She rescued her first dog, Snickers over 13 years ago and that dog healed her, her entire family, and so many others. Now, she teaches others through the PAWS that saved, rescued, and healed her! Check out her website, blog, videos and dog training classes @ http://www.dogspawsforhealing.com.