Oh now I’m confused. I thought I was part of the Community before, but according to the page, I just joined.
Adrian is learning to live in town. Her temperament is great, and I have been taking her out in the hills with the other two dogs. She checks in with me regularly and handles beautifully with little effort on my part. She’s learning a recall quickly and while she’s a curious and independent dog, she’s also as biddable as any dog I’ve ever seen, probably better than any.
More to come…
I’m really liking the way it’s broken out.
Also like the term “defer walk.” This makes people think about deferral and what that means.
The Walk has been a game changer for the way I can relate to and handle dogs, including strays. I’ve used it on lost dogs I’ve run across, from a pit bull to a herder. It works.
The most dramatic incident, though, was when I was out hunting and I heard a strange howl from the cliffs above me. At first, I thought it was some predator, but when I looked, it was a German Shorthair who saw me with my dogs and was calling for help.
I climbed up to see what was going on, and I found that he was on a shaky chunk of lava. Big, loose lava rocks covered the hillside, and it seems that he had run out into the loose rock, but when he felt how unstable they were, he froze. He refused to move off the rock he was standing on.
Fortunately, I’d put a check cord in my vest. I climbed up the shaky rock to him and put the cord on him. Then I led him off the rocks, doing the closest thing to the Walk that I could under the circumstances. With me in the lead, he had the trust to take a step, then another step, then another, until I got him off the rock pile. I was able to lead him another mile or so back to my Jeep, with his trust.
He had an e-collar on him with a dead battery, so I figured he was probably out hunting. I called the phone number on his collar and it was disconnected. I put him in the back of my Jeep with my dogs and apart from the fact that he was an intact male and one of mine was also, he seemed happy to have someone taking care of him. Again, he seemed to have innate trust in the guy who had done the Walk with him on those unstable rocks and beyond. Because both dogs would defer to me, I was able to manage the male-male stuff immediately with an “ach” and a look or two.
I had no idea what to do but I figured I might as well drive back out to the pavement and figure it out there instead of in the dirt as the sun was setting. As I approached the main road, I saw a mass of 4×4 vehicles assembling like they were going out to look for something or someone, so, on a hunch, I drove over and asked the first person I saw, “Hey, you guys aren’t looking for a German Shorthair, are you?”
The guy’s eyes lit up and he said, “Yeah! Have you seen him?”
I said, “Yes,” and laughed to myself.
“Do you know where he is?”
“Yeah.” He asked where. Then I laughed out loud and pointed. “He’s right there in the back of the Jeep.”
A few other people had walked over and they were almost dancing with joy when they saw him and that he was okay.
They told me the dog had been lost the evening before, and they thought he might have been taken by coyotes. It seems he must have been standing on that rock, afraid to move, for a whole day!
There are many “tools” in the toolkit of dog handling, and they all have important applications. But I have to say, the Defer Walk and related stuff like space claiming, have completely changed the way I am able to handle dogs and gain their trust quickly.