We take our 11-year-old Labradoodle, Tucker, on daily off-leash walks through the woods. He gambols off, runs back periodically to check on us, then eventually, energy depleted, walks back with us. Lately, regardless of where we are, he falls behind us to sniff and explore for the last hundred feet to the parking lot, then slowly circumnavigates the parking lot and surrounding woods, deliberately ignoring us and the commands he usually obeys, until he’s completed his exploration.
How can we get him to revert to his old behavior of obeying the command “Car,” and jumping in?
As it is with most people, wisdom comes from age. And so it is with our four-legged family members. At age 11, Tucker has the equivalent wisdom of a 70-year-old person, and is totally aware of when the fun and interesting walk is coming to an end. He’s also aware that there are no real negative consequences to his ignoring you and elongating his pleasure of “reading” the environment with his nose. He “sees” more with his nose than most people see with their eyes. He knows the age, sex, and health of the dog that recently peed on a bush. The rabbit pellets tell him how recently the rabbit visited, and in which direction he went. The battleground where a small army of ants dispatched a cricket is engrossing.
So what is going to be more compelling than the fascinating environment? Answer: MEAT. As you’re nearing the end of the walk, call Tucker to come, and when he arrives, reward him with a piece of hot dog. Then have him follow you with another hot dog piece in your hand, which he gets the moment after he hops into the car.
Give Tucker a kiss for me!