Jamie was separated from me by a group of dogs and people. Disorientated, he headed off like a bullet in the opposite direction and disappeared from sight. Having been through this before with my previous dogs, I did not panic...yet.
I have been slowly introducing my dogs to different parks graduating from the one at home to bigger and bigger public parks. Today was the first day we were trying out a park with wide open spaces.
Everything had been going well until Jamie spooked.
Various other dog walkers said they thought they'd seen him heading back down the hill. So Jemma and I backtracked whilst I blew the red whistle at regular intervals.
Thank goodness for the red whistle. In my younger days, I could run faster and shout louder. But now there was no way I could keep up with a sprinting beagle. Eventually he must have zoned into the sound of the whistle as I spotted him coming back. We met up at the bottom of the hill and I did a few TTouch movements on his body to calm him. We slowly climbed the hill again.
Eventually the sight of people and other dogs cheered Jamie up and he was back to his usual self running ahead and exploring with zest.
So what are the lessons I learnt?
- Always keep your dogs attached to you by a mental elastic band. Use your voice and treats to keep them coming back to you before they range too far and break the elastic band (use the red whistle when they start to go too far).
- Sometimes sound is not enough to orientate your dog. It took a while for Jamie to pin point exactly where the sound of the whistle was coming from. So now I am going to use large flapping motions of my arms in association with the whistle so that my dogs can see and hear me (Do not laugh if you see me in your local park blowing a whistle and flapping my arms like a large ungainly bird. There is method in the madness).
- It helps to park in the same, safe place every time you go to a park, so that if your dogs do get lost, hopefully they will head for the car.