For those who follow my blog or hear about my escapades in person, you know that when Romeo was an adolescent, I was working on off-leash reliability with Romeo. While I want him to always know where I am so he doesn’t venture too far, sometimes the scent of the bunnies causes him to lose focus on me. One morning I had the chance to test what he would do if he did lose track of me. (August 2011)
How long would it take for him to realize I wasn’t right there? And what would he do once he realized I was not there? In this case, we were at the top of our hill. Romeo was tracking scents through the scrub oak. I quietly slipped off partway down the hill and behind some of the scrub oak.
It was perhaps 10-15 seconds before I heard him running around in a way that indicated he was looking for me. He clearly was a bit concerned that I wasn’t in sight. He ran off the other direction looking for me – I often will backtrack the way we came from when he isn’t paying attention. He still could not find me. I expected that he would expand his search and find me, but instead he let out a whine.
It wasn’t one of his “there’s a bunny nearby and I am not able to get at it” kind of whines. It was most definitely one of is “I want to be near Momma and I can’t get to her” – or in this case “can’t find her” kind of whines. It was then that I spoke up to let him know where I was.
I do not like that he was not paying attention to where I was going. However, I do like that he tried to find me as soon as he realized I was not where he thought I was. I like that he called out for help when he couldn’t easily find me. (Rather than running off a mile in the wrong direction.) I like that when I did call to him, he was there in a shot, and very very glad to see me.
We still have work to do, but I am glad to see that when he does make mistakes, he makes the right choices to correct those mistakes. Part of training is allowing for mistakes to be made. As long as we are doing our best to keep our dogs safe in the process.