Stella and Raven have been working hard together at Rally over the past 6 months, and we continue to work our dogs daily. I have been working Raven off lead (no leash, all vocal commands) for several months, and at home in the safety of our backyard, with little or no distraction, Stella has been doing off lead work with her too.
Raven is a super smart dog, and very athletic. She loves the agility course, retrieving games, and of course running. She is a lot of fun to work with, and is an eager learner. Major is extremely obedient, CRAZY athletic, and sometimes proves hard for Stella to work if her blood sugar is off. At that point he keeps looking for me to tell me to “fix it”. Sometimes Stella gets frustrated when working Major at rally due to this.
Here is something that I learned just by watching Stella and Raven work together. When they are working on lead (with leash), Stella is often very quick to correct and impatient. She gives a command and expects an immediate reaction. I am always telling her to wait for the dog to react, to give the command, then take a breath. She is working hard on this, and has made a lot of improvement in this area. And what I observed by removing the leash was eye opening.
I basically took away her crutch. Without the leash, she is forced to focus on her dog, use her voice, be patient, and trust in her dog. Now, I don’t ever recommend going off lead in public. We are in a safe area, surrounded by well trained dogs and lot’s of experienced dog handlers and trainers. We are in a fenced in area. We have the deck stacked in our favor. But there are still a LOT of distractions, both for Stella and Raven. Other dogs, kids, bumpers flying around, diabetic scent, treats, an occasional rabbit, the course was wet, slippery, and muddy in spots, all kinds of things.
The team has to work together. Stella asked me if she could take Raven through off lead. She had already taken Raven through on lead, so she was familiar with the course. I told her she. And I loved what I saw. I am so very proud of these 2. They work really well together. Stella was calm. Focused. Patient. Confident. And she is still only 11. I honestly believe that a lot of the work she does at horseback riding is really translating here.