It's been no secret on this blog in the past year that our dog Indy loves the ranch. It's like Dog Nirvana. Dog Nirvana being a dream land where there're a lot of things to smell and pee on, lots of small critters to chase and kill, lots of big critters to chase and get in trouble for, things to roll in, chefs to feed you meat scraps and nice, sunny, warm spots to nap in when everything else has worn you out.
For Indy, being a city dog was definitely a disadvantage. He didn't know how to be off leash without losing his mind with joy, he didn't understand that getting kicked by a horse can kill you, he just has his ancient wild dog instinct - chase.
Last summer, I was able to ease him slowly into being off-leash and free to roam the ranch. He mostly did really well (by mostly I mean that he only chased the horses a few times), but I limited his time off-leash outside the garden - a few hours a day when I could keep close tabs on him.
This year has been so different. Since the garden is no longer my responsibility, I can't drop Indy off in there where he can't get into serious trouble but could still be outside. The options this year have been to a)keep him in the cabin (Sad.) or b) Get him an electronic collar and train him to be a ranch dog.
We chose option b. We ordered a SportDog electronic collar - he wears the collar and I carry the remote that operates the collar with me all day. If Indy hyper-focuses on a horse or the steer, I can buzz him to get his attention. If he disappears while I'm cleaning the lodge or a guest cabin, I can buzz him to get him to come back.
There is a zap button on the remote - and it's for the times that he's really in trouble. I've been calling and buzzing and calling and buzzing, and he's so stimmed out on chasing ground squirrels (we call them Picket Pens) that he still doesn't come. A good zap gets his attention and gets him moving in the right direction. (I should mention that there are varying intensities ranging from 1-10 for you to use based on the size and disposition of your dog - Indy only needs his on an intensity of 2.)
It also keeps him from getting killed by a horse or a steer stampede that he's created.
And since part of working on a ranch means your dog gets to go to work with you, Indy is now a working ranch dog. Eradicating the Picket Pen population day by day.
And he gets to spend all of every day outside - sniffing, rolling, peeing, chasing - living the dream in Dog Nirvana.
We should've bought the E-Collar a year ago. I don't think we'll ever train a dog without it again!
Speaking of the ranch, here's one of Jason's photos from the ranch. You can see it on his Etsy Shop by clicking HERE!