Something exciting happened this morning.
I let Lu out the door and hadn’t noticed a rabbit sitting across the driveway, probably 20 meters away. Usually I either have her on lead going out, or I’ve checked for rabbits, but this morning I forgot. Lu got out the door and I turned my back to lock it, looked down at her and saw her frozen, staring across the lawn… at the rabbit. I immediately told her how wonderful and brilliant she was (usually at which point she would sprint to go chase it) but she actually looked at me and was really happy. I opened the door as quick as I could and we both went inside where I got some amazingly tasty food for her and gave her heaps – she was very pleased!
I took it with me as I opened the door again and she paused in the threshold – didn’t rush through, didn’t run out to go find it, she waited for my ok. I quietly said “Ok, let’s go”, at which point I expected her to take off (the rabbit had actually hopped to the other side of the fence by now and was hopping around over there) but she crept out and froze on the deck. I told her how wonderful she was again and gave her more of the deliciousness, and said “come on,” and went to the car. At this point she was thinking really hard about going to the rabbit as there was a choice between continuing out from the garage to the rabbit or coming in to the car… and she chose the car. Lots more food and praise and I quietly closed her in.
I was just so amazed. In the past there wouldn’t have even been a thought process. It would have been RABBIT= RUN!!! So the fact that she not only stopped to think but made the right choices and was happy about it and wasn’t stressing out about the rabbit and her not chasing it was amazing. I did have the thought when it was still sitting there to actually ask for some behaviours and then allow her to go chase it, knowing it was a pretty controlled situation, but it had already hopped off by then. And I’m still not convinced I want this to be an option. I think “no hunting, EVER”, is a less ambiguous message than “Hunting is ok, sometimes, only when I say so”.