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I learned today that Galen does not have a sense of humor.

I took him on an off leash walk at lunch. Normally I like him to stick within about 50 feet. However, it's a cool damp day today, and there are too many enticing smells for him to follow. He kept breaking out of our invisible circle. After the third or fourth time he got past 100 feet I stepped behind a tree. From my hiding place, I watched an expression of consternation come onto his face as he looked over his shoulder and realized I had disappeared. Then he came rocketing back along his path, past the tree where I was hiding, up to the place where I was standing when he last checked in. I wasn't there. He looked left and right with an expression of near panic. He turned around to run past my tree again. I made a little rustling noise to attract his attention.

Normally he gives a little happy wiggle when he catches up to me on a walk. Nope. Not this time. He was one ticked off dog. He cantered past with a little sideways glare, stopping 50 feet past me with a very put out expression on his face.

Oops. Memo to self- don't tease the dog.
 

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I always do that with my puppies, in a safe place, of course. When they start moving too far away I turn down a side path or hide behind a tree or otherwise disappear. It teaches them that I am leading the dance, and if they don't keep track of me and where I am going they will be left behind. Of course I am watching to make sure they don't get into trouble, but they don't know that. After one or two times they get really good at finding me, and don't panic anymore, but it still teaches them to stay within eyesight and to keep track of me. Even once they are adults, if they start not paying attention I will disappear and then they remember. I have gotten comments on how attentive my dogs are when we are out hiking, they keep checking in to make sure I'm still there.

I don't consider it teasing, I consider it training.
 

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After more than ten years Poppy still panics and dashes in circles looking for me, while Sophy is as likely to sit down and wait for me to reappear...
 
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Silly Galen! That's Annie's favourite game. We started when she was a puppy, and now I have a really hard time slipping away. I slip behind a tree, she realizes I am gone, rockets back, often past me, and freezes when she catches my scent. Then finds me, gets all excited, I laugh, and we keep walking. I often do reravens turn and walk the other direction /down another path too, which she enjoys. Extra running! She does hate it when she can't find me, I usually make a noise if she is desperately repeatedly searching the wrong area, growing frantic.
 

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My son and I did that to my daughter when she 4 or 5 at a water park. We hid behind my car when we arrived in the parking lot. She's still pissed off about it! 😂

I dunno, people and dogs are similar, some laugh and others are like that's so not funny. Of my poodles, Bella loves hide and seek. If Sachii were human, he acts as clueless as a stoner, like, Duh, I guess she disappeared.
 

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For puppies it is not supposed to be funny or something they laugh off. It is supposed to be a powerful lesson that they must stick with me when they are off leash and not run off on their own. Off leash hiking is what I do with my dogs every day, and I can't do it if they are not going to stay with me. Puppies stay with us by instinct, because in the wild a pup who gets separated from his Mum and litter mates is a dead pup. As they grow they get more independent and start ranging further away, which is good for a pup who will have to learn to take care of himself, but not so good for a pup who has to live in a world with roads and cars and dognappers or cops who will catch them and take them away. As they start ranging farther they still don't want to be left entirely alone, so those first couple of "OMG I AM ALL ALONE WHERE IS MOM" panics is something they don't forget. I use this tactic to teach them to always stick with me, and to emphasize that they cannot ever go so far that they cannot see me.

As we encounter other distractions (other people and dogs) I have them sit and give me eye contact and then if it is safe release them to meet and greet and play. That turns into just a check in as they grow up. Squirrels and rabbits and turkeys and deer are a whole 'nother problem, and depending on the dog, one we never stop working on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
For puppies it is not supposed to be funny or something they laugh off. It is supposed to be a powerful lesson that they must stick with me when they are off leash and not run off on their own. Off leash hiking is what I do with my dogs every day, and I can't do it if they are not going to stay with me. Puppies stay with us by instinct, because in the wild a pup who gets separated from his Mum and litter mates is a dead pup. As they grow they get more independent and start ranging further away, which is good for a pup who will have to learn to take care of himself, but not so good for a pup who has to live in a world with roads and cars and dognappers or cops who will catch them and take them away. As they start ranging farther they still don't want to be left entirely alone, so those first couple of "OMG I AM ALL ALONE WHERE IS MOM" panics is something they don't forget. I use this tactic to teach them to always stick with me, and to emphasize that they cannot ever go so far that they cannot see me.

As we encounter other distractions (other people and dogs) I have them sit and give me eye contact and then if it is safe release them to meet and greet and play. That turns into just a check in as they grow up. Squirrels and rabbits and turkeys and deer are a whole 'nother problem, and depending on the dog, one we never stop working on.
Your point of using OMG LOST MOM as a scare tactic is indeed why I stepped behind the tree. I wanted him to experience a consequence for getting too independent and ranging too far. He certainly didn't enjoy the lesson!

Additionally, in preparation for him exiting his cooperative puppy stage, I have been working all summer on establishing a few check points on our regular walks. One is at the top of my stairs. Another is at the foot of my driveway. A third is at the corner of a street we need to cross. At each of these locations I request him to sit and wait for me; he gets multiple treats each time. Now that he is an adolescent I can see him wanting to blow past these check points, but the habit is too strong.
 
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