The last time we went hiking I had some problems, namely with Tibbs. Since he's James' dog, that is as a rule the only person that can get through to him when he's off-leash in "WHOOOOOO!" mode. I was concerned about it, and the dogs hadn't had any exercise in a few days and I knew they'd be running around like crazy dogs for the first chunk of the hike.
The trail I prefer for running the crazies out of the dogs is off-leash friendly and well, well away from any major traffic of any kind, so it's a great place to really let them go. Provided they're smart enough not to fall off any cliffs, challenge any coyote packs, or chase the deer. Guinness has been hiking regularly since puppyhood and I may have done the littler dogs a disservice by not ensuring to hike them as much as I did with Guinness. But to be fair, when Guinness was a puppy I was a college student in rural Alabama - not much to do in Tuscaloosa except drink or go outside to play.
I let the dogs out of the car and away we went down the trail. Sure enough, totally unlistening bonkers dogs.
As a dog owner, I'm continually training the dogs, no matter where we are. I had brought a bag of training treats with me, and throughout the hike regularly recalled the dogs to me, gave them each a treat, and then released them to go back to running around. The idea here is to build a rock-solid recall that (in the dogs' minds) doesn't necessarily mean the cessation of fun times. Get back to me, collect your reward, and off you go.
This particular trail is a balloon or cherry-stem design - a long trail, with a loop, then you come out the same way you went in. In the middle is a pretty decent sized hill, and it's rocky the whole way. So this is definitely not a trail you can do without paying attention, but it's still short enough and other than the huge hill, flat enough that it's a really beginner-friendly hike. So if you have a dog and want to start hiking, give Turkey Creek a go.
We hiked along and met several people, and I'm also beginning to realize how little off-leash socialization the boys have had with strange dogs. Plenty of on-leash time and exposure to the outside world, lots of time going over to hang out with other dogs, but not a lot of offleash time around dogs they've never met. Let me tell you, they get EXCITED. Especially over a female.
|Whatever this was, it was really interesting.|
We made it up to the windswept top of the hill, when about halfway through the hike, I suddenly heard a pack of coyotes start howling and crying like they'd caught something. In these parts, coyotes really enjoy killing dogs, and I'd met a group looking for the lost dachshund earlier on the trail. So I was a tad unnerved and wanted the dogs to all stay in eye-shot.
After the hill down in the flat part of the trail, we were hiking along when on the trail along the ridge above us I hear another group and their dog. Totally normal, this trail is a great place to walk a dog. However, Shiner BOLTED. He shot up this hill after this dog, and absolutely would NOT leave.
|Immediately pre-bolt. I had to put my camera away for the most part after this.|
I called and called. And called some more. No Shiner. As I was concerned by the fact he'd shot up the hill, I went off trail and scaled the hill, where the dog's owners handed him back over. I put him on his leash and we parted ways in the opposite direction. After letting the other hikers get out of ear and eyeshot, I took Shiner's leash back off and WHOOSH. He TOOK OFF down the trail after his dog friend. Again, I called and called and no return by Shiner. Guinness, Tibbs, and I made our way back up the trail to find him attempting to hump this dog, a pit bull mix. He absolutely refused to come - he had to be caught. I have not been so disappointed in him in a long time.
The entire rest of the hike, Shiner wore the leash of shame. The leash of shame essentially means - congratulations. We're in a huge offleash area, and you've proved you can't be trusted with that. In more trainery terms, the degree of distraction overwhelmed him and his motivation to check out that other dog was way higher than any reward I had available. So I had to remove something he wanted - his freedom. He had to walk behind Tibbs and Guinness. He basically hated life that entire walk back to the car.
We finished our walk as the sun was beginning to set, so I laid down the seats in the car so they could have the whole back to sprawl out and then headed home.