Thursday, May 26, 2011


For the dog who is ready -- really ready -- Home Depot offers a splendid environment for advanced proofing, a training site with no-nonsense distractions.

I learned a valuable lesson at Home Depot years ago.  Bebop (Ch. Bebop UDX2, my first border collie) was on a long sit in a side aisle in the lumber area.  He was off-leash near the end of that side aisle, where it joined the main aisle. I was standing some distance away, near the other end, the interior end.  Everything was cool; Bebop was calmly doing his thing.

Suddenly a power saw went off behind me.  Bebop took off, out into the main aisle, toward an entrance which opened onto the parking lot, then a major thoroughfare.  I was behind him, calling, "Bebop come! Bebop come!"  The panicked dog probably didn't even hear me.

I must have been living right.  Bebop tore right past the door and into the garden area.  There, several other people took up the chase and eventually he headed back into the main store, where I met him.

"DOWN!" I bellowed.  The poor dog dropped like he had been shot and the chase was over.

The lesson?  In that type of setting, always position yourself between Fido and the outside entrance.

The most unique proofing opportunities Home Depot offers are outside the store.  At least where I live, Home Depot opens at 5 a.m..  By 6 o'clock, contractors are clattering out of the store with building materials on large carts.  And, with a lot of crashing and banging, loading those materials into their truck beds.  Beyond the din of loading, many of those trucks are diesels, and they add their own special distractions as they leave the lot.

For the advanced dog, Home Depot is a wonderful place to work on focus while heeling, doing signals, practicing scent articles, and whatever else you can dream up.  I recommend short sessions (5 minutes?) with lots of rewards.

If Fluffy can perform well in that environment, you've got four paws up on focus.


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