Distractions, lots of distractions

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men so oft go astray.

My plan today was to work on some of this contract work I have going on, but I’ll do that later. Because, as it turns out, today was far too nice a day to waste completely indoors, so Hilda and I went off for a training walk. It felt like spring, with a temperature of 52 and a stiff breeze. Enjoy it, I said to myself, because it’s probably the last we’ll get for at least a week and a half. Maybe more.

She did some absolutely brilliant work. Hilda stopped at all the curbs. Didn’t miss a single one. I have trouble with this one very flat curb a couple blocks from my house, but I think we even nailed that one. Wait, I take it back, I think she actually ran one, but one is really pretty good.

We also had a chance with a few barricades. Some were melting snow piles, and she worked her way around those very nicely, requiring only a small amount of coaching from me to get around, in the street, and back onto the sidewalk to continue on our line of travel. We had a couple cars parked across our path, too, which I was sort of hoping to engineer sometime or other, and again, she handled those beautifully.

I noticed that she was doing a lot of window shopping today, and who can blame her? This meant sometimes we were too close to one side or the other of the sidewalk. It’s kind of an interesting feeling to be walking more or less straight while your dog is also looking off to the left at goodness only knows what. I don’t really mind that so much, as long as she’s paying attention to where we’re going, which I think she really was.

I think she’s starting to get the idea of reworking something she got wrong the first time. I think this because one time when I went to do that, we were walking back and she was doing the pokey slow pouty walk. You know the one, I’m sure. They all do it. All three of my last dogs did. But when she nailed it the second time, it was all good!

The thing we had to rework was a street crossing. Well, actually, there were two. The first one we had to rework because she got distracted by a dog that was out, maybe loose, I’m not sure, but he was caddy corner from us, and Hilda was giving some serious thought to a diagonal crossing. This would definitely not be high on my list of things to do. First time she ever attempted such a thing. But we got back on track, went back across, and did it over, without the distraction dog, and she nailed it. And then I nailed some sharp dead twigs from a tree at the corner, so we got to show her that looking for overheads is a good idea. Only took two do overs to avoid the tree.

She was also a bit distracted by another dog, barking at her from its yard and running as far as it could towrds us. She didn’t want to walk past it and kept trying to block me. Eventually, we got past it and life was good.

The other crossing, I almost let slide. See, here’s what happened. We approached the corner, and she stopped perfectly. We made a left to the other curb, also perfect. Then we crossed. And instead of hitting the curb, she went more around the corner and approached *that* curb. I thought, oh, she was just avoiding a big pile of snow. So I went to investigate, and sure enough, the approach she should have taken was clear. So we went across and did it again, and again, she went around the corner…or almost did, but I stopped her and got her to where I wanted her to go. And realized what she was probably doing. She didn’t want to step in the huge puddle that was sitting right in front of the blended curb. Suppose I can’t much blame her for that.

It was very windy, with lots of stuff blowing around, so there was lots for her to look at and get distracted by. All in all though, she didn’t let a lot of things distract too much. Sure, I had to stop a couple times to slow her down, but all things considered, with a pretty high level of distraction by new things happening, I’d say it wasn’t bad at all. I’m still having to coach her through going around things that block our path, but only a little bit. She’s definitely got “Right” and “left” down, and I really think she’s clued into the fact that I’m following her.

I tell you, this is pretty amazing stuff!

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