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The Training of the Brythen

It's been a while since I reported on the This Will Not Do campaign - ie, dealing with Brythen's tendency to disappear over the horizon and come back when he felt like it.

I worked quite hard on this problem for a while, and kept him on a 32 foot line apart from for short bursts of offlead where I felt there was a decent chance of being able to get him back promptly. I carried roast chicken with me wherever I went! I made a huge effort to get him playing fetch and tuggy with his special Kong Tails that he's only allowed on walks, so that engaging with me would seem interesting and fun. (hah! dogs are easy to fool... )

Then Az got ill, and suddenly things became more complicated. I really needed to be able to exercise Brythen properly, so he would not eat too many shoes, daleks, curtains, beds, expensive books etc. But Az desperately wanted to come with us, and he got tired terribly quickly. Although I sometimes walked them separately, I ended up quite often taking Brythen to places where he could hare about after rabbits for ages and I could walk gently for a short distance with Az, and then take him back to sit in the car while I waited for Brythen to decide he'd had enough. This strategy is not ideal, but sometimes, needs must.

I have been quite thankful for the rain. Brythen HATES rain and mud with a passion, so has been much easier to keep a handle on than he might have been. There have even been a couple of days when I've taken dogs out for a microwalk in the morning, which was abandoned due to lack of enthusiasm from all parties. Then I haven't been able to stir them out of bed for the evening walk at all. Which, given that Brythen in good weather will basically run until there is no more land left to run on, is not bad really.

I think the long line walking has helped - or maybe he's just growing up and forming more of an attachment to me. He's less likely to head off to the hills now - he does tend to hang about where I can see him, and quite often, he comes back when called, or spontaneously come up to ask for a game of tug! But he's still very unmotivated by food (I shoved a pile of dried chicken liver under his nose this morning and he totally ignored it...)

And of course, sometimes there are the walks like this evening's walk, when I carefully walked him all around some fields on his longline, only to have him decide to throw a tantrum when we got back to the gate, wriggle out of his harness and disappear after the elusive bunnies. I'm afraid I did lose my temper and grump at him a bit after that, which I always regret afterwards. He just shuts down and try to keep away because he knows from early experience that angry human beings are just violent and incomprehensible, and it doesn't even occur to him to try to change behaviour as a result.

I never have had much time for long lines before, because Mollydog was a nightmare with them - give her a few feet of rope and she would inevitably tangle herself up into an unsolvable melancholy greyhound-knot. She was very food motivated, so it was relatively easy to get her to be very reliable offlead without using a line. But I am finding it handy for Brythen, who is much better at picking his paws up and not getting the line wound round his legs. He's also rather more erratic than Mollydog ever was!

The big problem with using a long line around here is that the open areas tend to be all heather and gorse, so you just can't let the dog trail the line or he gets snagged almost immediately. I've been using it on the quietest areas of lane instead. OK the tarmac is filthy and full of potholes, but it is possible to practice loose-line walking there, and I can hear the occasional cars coming in plenty of time to reel him in.

Brythen still hasn't come anywhere close to catching a bunny. I'm not sure he'd know what to do if he did actually get within grabbing distance of one - his idea of fun seems to be staring longingly, then galloping about madly in a manner that I am sure the bunnies do not take seriously, with his absurd ears flapping madly.

I am kind of thinking now that the bit of Brythen that is not greyhound is probably some sort of pointer. He has definitely been growing, and seems a bit more chunky now. His ears are very pointerish: when you see him with pointers, he does look rather like them (and he seems to get on with them particularly well - better than he gets on with a lot of lurchers, in fact, as lurchers often tend to want to play a bit rough for Big Soft Puppy). Plus, he points, one paw lifted, nose extended! Though I know that isn't necessarily a proof.

Thankfully, Az has been feeling a lot better recently, and has been able to walk much further and enjoy it too. Of course, this means he leads Brythen astray by setting off in a wobbly old run after OMG!Imaginary!bunnies!, or suddenly deciding to bounce and bark at a dog behind a gate. Disgraceful old hound he is.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
inzilbeth_liz
5th Jan, 2013 08:35 (UTC)
I feel your frustration. I too am finding that having to accomodate more than one dog means the training isn't all it should be for Max. I'm sure you're right about his feeling more affection for you though, I certainly sense that with Max who is now [almost] more interested in playing than running off. Glad to know Az is doing OK.
bunn
5th Jan, 2013 09:11 (UTC)
Yay, well done Max (and I have to say, it's enormously reassuring to hear you are having the same thing even with a border collie. Maybe B. will become reliable in the end, I keep having to remind myself that he is very young.

(Edited cos I accidentally used an animated icon of Mollydog going boing that I like very much but it is a bit distracting!)

Edited at 2013-01-05 09:13 (UTC)
puddleshark
5th Jan, 2013 08:46 (UTC)
I'm so glad Az has come through the bad patch & long may he continue to enjoy the wobbly pursuit of imaginary bunnies!

I had to give up on long lines and flexi-leads with Pip, him being a springer - within thirty seconds there would be a Gordian knot involving three trees, four gorse bushes and a passing stranger... But luckily he is very sossidge-motivated.

Brythen a pointer cross? Oh my. A friend used to have pointers, and they used to range for miles...
bunn
5th Jan, 2013 09:23 (UTC)
That was exactly what Mollydog would do on a longline, only the knot would usually feature three of her own legs and I would be terrified she would be about to fall over and hurt her tissue-paper skin.

I don't know about the pointer for sure, of course. He could be lurcher son of lurcher, lolloping gormlessly back across the centuries, or he could be one of those mixes where two sets of genes produce non-obvious results. But it does seem to fit.

If I ever have a spare 60 quid, I might get him DNA tested, it would be interesting to see what that said.
smirnoffmule
5th Jan, 2013 13:27 (UTC)
From my experience of those DNA kicks, they will probably tell you he's a Boston Terrier ;)
bunn
5th Jan, 2013 14:40 (UTC)
Oh, who did you have tested?

I know they can produce some pretty absurd results, but I still have this sneaking desire to try testing him anyway. I justify this to myself by saying that if the report shows he is Cumberland Spaniel x Pyranean x chi, that would probably really mean that his genetic mix is so random that it really means he is Lurcher Lurcherson. Whereas if it said, IDK greyhound x weimie, I could take that a bit more seriously.

Possibly just admitting I have a case of NEW TECHNOLOGY IS SHINY! would be more honest :-D
smirnoffmule
5th Jan, 2013 16:31 (UTC)
I've never had any of mine tested, I've just seen other people's results, which usually seem to have at least one breed thrown in as a joke. I've never seen one done on a dog of known heritage though so I have no idea how accurate they can be. I must admit I have been tempted to try Cole, just because I'd love to know what his not-staffie half is. Though I suspect his not-staffie parent was probably a cross as well.

Brythen is extraordinary shapes, so it would certainly be interesting at least. And I sympathise with your offlead trials - I have similar trials with Blaze, who unfortunately I think will always find sniffs more interesting than anything people can provide. I'm fortunate that she doesn't run away so much as bury herself in impenetrable hedges just tantalising metres from my grasp. We compromise between off-lead time and longlead time for both our peace of minds (though her longline got eaten last week by a dog I was transporting - it was on the car seat next to the crate, and he managed to quietly quietly hook a bit through the bars and nom it).
bunn
5th Jan, 2013 18:12 (UTC)
He is a weird looking thing. I should make up a special name for him and boast about my unique and exclusive designer dog. Grointer? Maybe not. Pointhound! I like the sound of a pointhound. :-D

I have had so many leads eaten by foster dogs. You look away for 30 seconds and there they are eating the equipment...
mcmurphy79
5th Jan, 2013 08:56 (UTC)
Bloody lurchers. I like a long line but like you say they can get so tangled and it can be hard if you have more than one naughty dog.

Keep going, you know you'll get there.
bunn
5th Jan, 2013 09:26 (UTC)
Most of the time, Az is really really good. It's just that 1% of the time when you ASSUME he's going to be good and he takes you by surprise! :-D
(Deleted comment)
bunn
5th Jan, 2013 14:43 (UTC)
He did an hour and a half walk this morning, followed by a huge lunch - and had to be persuaded that it was time for a nap afterwards! I'm unspeakably pleased.
endlessrarities
5th Jan, 2013 13:26 (UTC)
Glad to hear that Az is picking up! I was wondering...

The picture of an 'unsolvable melancholy greyhound-knot' is a delightful one, mainly because I'm not the one expected to unravel it. Least you didn't try the Alexander the Great Gordian knot solution!
bunn
5th Jan, 2013 14:46 (UTC)
Az is doing really well. He's a tad wobbly, but very determined!

The problem of the unsolvable greyhound-knot was made much worse by the fact that the greyhound component of the knot was so fragile and delicate, so you end up trying to solve the knot in panic at top speed, while chanting - NO, STAY! STAY STILL!!
endlessrarities
5th Jan, 2013 15:11 (UTC)
I now have visions of yourself being incorporated into the greyhound melee, with arms/legs/paws flailing in all directions...
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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