Continued work with Maddie

Maddie on church steps 5-21-16Maddie has come along really well from the scared and hesitant girl she was about a year ago. I remember the first time I took her into Tractor Supply and she didn’t want anyone near her. Now she is reaching the point where she wants to check people out and go up to them. Much better for my little ranch girl!

I took her out with me when I ran into our small town to drop something off at the post office. She is getting really good at staying in the truck by herself and not stressing out because I have left her. After I mailed off my package, we drove to a good shady parking spot and started our walk. This time I took her on the back road of town, since she hasn’t been there before. I saw a loose dog outside of a house there, but I had the sense that he wasn’t a threat, so continued to walk on the sidewalk. It was a male, about the same size as Maddie, so not much of a threat to her. He was a bit territorial, but not aggressive. He pulled himself up to make himself look bigger, but Maddie just wanted to say hi. No barking or growling from my girl! She spotted a pretty light orange cat off at the corner of the house, but made no move to chase it. As I was trying to get a few snapshots for the blog, the lady of the house came out and we talked a few minutes. A larger dog which I hadn’t seen yet, a Lab cross maybe, started barking and came out from between the cars, but didn’t approach us. Maddie didn’t even blink an eye! Yeah Maddie! The smaller dog relaxed with Maddie and came up and started sniffing her and the other dog walked away. Doing good Maddie, doing good!

We continued up the next block, then as we were at the edge of town, we changed direction and headed to the main drag. There is a nice little church there, so I put Maddie on a sit/stay and took a picture of her on the steps. (I am soooo going to bring my real camera next time!) She hasn’t ever been worked with stays, as my husband uses the word when he is leaving and wants the dogs to just stay here, so I need to find another word that hasn’t been “contaminated” that will be my “stay” word. Which will be hard to do, as I have always taught my dogs to “stay” and it is a natural word for me to use. I worked lightly with Maddie on “heel” and to sit, then stay at heel or when I walk on a step or two, then turn to face her, asking her to stay then returning to her side in the heel position. She doesn’t know what to expect with the sit and stay when I go out in front of her. She wants to get up when I return to her and walk around behind her, so I fed her treats with my left hand as I approached her and walked around behind her to return to the “heel” position. I know she will get the hang of it quickly after a few more times.

I did a bit more “heel” training, feeding her with my right hand to encourage her to stay roughly in the “heel” position. Maybe I need to use my left hand. Hmm, I will do that next time. I’m so used to training my dog with a choke chain and leash, walking down a sidewalk in a city that it is a fun challenge to teach my Ratties differently. I’m still trying to figure it out, as my earlier training methods were more old fashioned, not mean or harsh, just different than what I’m trying on the dogs now.

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Since the town is only maybe four or five blocks long, we quickly ran out of town again, so I crossed the main street and headed down to the fair grounds. Unlike Joy, Maddie is familiar and comfortable with the fairgrounds and enjoys going there. She doesn’t wander too far, but will check things out. As I was walking thru the section where they keep the sheep, goats and pigs, I was thinking of what a perfect spot it was to start really, really training for scent detection. Yup, next time I will bring my scent training stuff and see how Maddie does! Looking forward to that. But again, I digress…they have bleachers there, so I encouraged Maddie to jump up and walk along them. She does fine with that and doesn’t pay much attention to them, although it is a nice spot to work on balance and agility when she walks along the bleacher seat.

As I was walking up to the arena area, I noticed a lot of vehicles parked along one side and realized that they were playing Little League baseball at the two baseball diamonds on that side of the fairgrounds. Excellent opportunity to socialize Maddie some more! I kept her off leash so she wouldn’t think there was something to be concerned about and walked passed the small crowd of kids and parents and family. A few kids ran past her, she didn’t blink an eye, and stayed calmly close to me as we walked by. Yeah Maddie! It looked like one game had ended, but not a lot of people were leaving so there may have been more games to come, but as I needed to get back home, we turned around and walked by them again and headed to the truck.

All in all I am really pleased with how Maddie handles herself out in public. I am hoping to reach a point with her where I can perhaps start training for rally obedience and agility. I would so love to compete with these Ratties I have, but they all need some work before that will happen. Hoping this summer to build some of my own equipment so that we can start practicing the obstacles and jumps. It would be soooo fun to do with them and I know they would love it.

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