Sunday, 28 June 2009

Too much of a good thing?

We've just got back from a lovely long walk around Virginia Water Lake. I'm tired and Oscar was dragging his feet and had his head down for the last mile. Tess must have run at the very least three times as far as we did, plus she'd been swimming so many times doing her weird version of the doggie paddle where she tries to keep her ears out of the water! My husband says that's a six mile walk for us, so she did 18 and it still wasn't enough to even slightly tire her!
So what did she do as soon as we popped the back of the car open when we got home?
Jumped the fence.
She's been getting crafty recently and she knows that if she doesn't go far but equally doesn't quite come home even though we've got the gates open to make it easy, my husband will come out to look for her (for she is always his dog when she is bad!).
And Tess will then appear just a little way ahead down the path and do an impression of Lassie saying "follow me". She will then take him for a walk to MacLaren's head office on the common - a good half an hour away.
Then she will concede to answer his calls and allow him to put her lead on and walk her back.
She is obviously a very clever dog who is totally addicted to exercise!
Does anyone have any ideas how we can stop her doing this how to get extra time on a walk scam - apart from an 8 foot high fence?
We always reward her for coming back - but the extra walk seems to be an even greater reward. Plus on walks we do recall and release.
Open to suggestions other than shooting her!
I've registered at a new vet so maybe we'll ask them what they think. Is this part of her weird turns. She's not been quite so bad lately, only one postman and a boiler repair man growled at.
Maybe she's not getting enough exercise? But I get the feeling all day and all night still wouldn't be enough!


Anonymous said...

good fences make good neighbours and good pets. it sounds like tess is being studied like some sort of weird psychology experiment....dogs like people have idiosyncracies in their personality/behaviour that make them unique and may never be understood by a doggie shrink, dog whisperer or a vet. you've owned dogs for years presumably so i somehow doubt your vet will give you any new insight. tess does sound like a real challenge and you have my sympathies! :)

Honey the Great Dane said...

I think unfortunately the best solution is a taller fence - you know, the best way to stop dogs doing a behaviour is to prevent access to it - like puppies who are never allowed unsupervised into bedrooms never learn to chew shoes...(well, it worked a treat for us!).

Every time Tess escapes, she is finding it very rewarding (the attention, extra walk, etc) and it has now become a self-reinforcing action, which is more motivating than the rewards you give her for coming back. So the best way to tackle this, I think, is just not to let her do it. 'Coz every time she does it, she's reinforcing herself and making it a habit that's even harder to break.

If you can't have a higher fence, maybe keep her on lead when you enter your garden - until she is safely inside the house. Basically, just find some way so she cannot jump the fence.

I certainly don't think it's lack of exercise! And you know what they say about dogs always having better stamina than us and acclimatising to exercise faster than we can give it to them - basically, we can never keep up! So I think maybe do some more training - mental stimulation - make her work her mind as well, so she is mentally drained and looking forward to a bit of "shut down" when she gets home. Don't they say 10mins of training is worth 40mins of exercise or something like that?

I always try to include a bit of training on our walks (and I have a really LOW energy dog who needs a nap after an amble around the block!) - even if it's just a bit of heeling around trees or lampposts or doing 1 Out of Sight Down Stay or just lots of successive Sits & Downs with different distractions (eg, dog to remain lying down while you run around her waving your arms...) - or get her to do some tricks - even easy stuff that she does at home can be much more challenging in an outside environment coz it's new with more make her "work" so that she has to 'concentrate' - I think this will tire her out much more than another 18 miles, which she will probably just adapt to very quickly!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous poster, training!

I'm sure you know, the more you exercise her the more she'll want as she'll get fitter.

Tire her brain out, make her work for every tiny bit of food she gets (dinner in kongs) or scatter her dinner on the garden so she has to sniff it out. Progress to hiding the food/kong in the garden and sending her out to find it.

Train her while out on walks and around the house. Just a minute or two loads of times during the day and you'll have a mentally tired dog (and well trained).

Real bones are great for tiring them too.


Jemima Harrison said...

A practical tip: put Tess on a lead in the car and trap it in the boot so that the handle of the lead hangs out when the boot is shut. That way you can have hold of it before you pop the boot when you get home. Then straight into the house for a very high-premium treat/reward. I suspect ultimately, though, that you'll have no option but to boost the fence. One of our rescues could get over anything vertical, however high, so the answer was to put up some mesh, tilting inwards at the top.

wellie boots said...

Jemima, alert! (i'm sure you've already thought of this, but just in case) be careful leaving lead sticking out. Otherwise, if you break suddenly, all her weight will go on her neck. and if you leave enough slack to prevent that, there is loads to get tangled up in, especially with 2 dogs in the car.

my money's on plenty of clicjer training and a fence that tips in at the top

good luck!

Mina said...

I also agree with the tilting fence so she can't get over.

I thought Fred needed loads of exercise when he first arrived and spent lots of time walking him, or playing, when what he really needed some some time to completely give in and sleep - he would pace endlessly. I remember it was suggested to me that I kept him on a lead for walks and I worried I'd have to do ten miles a day to give him enough!

I put him in a crate for an hour a couple of times a day, and he slowly learned to relax. Now he can't sit still for 5 mins without having to have a lie down.

Mind you, he will still take every opportunity to go for a walk, he's just learnt to sleep in between.

If it really is energy she needs to burn up, rather than just not being able to sit still I'd suggest sniffing games because it's much more tiring to sniff than to run.