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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Yesterday we took Beau out to a park just to go to a park--several hundred acres with some places where there were not people and we were in a remote area and could cut him offlead and let him run in the creek or across a field.

As soon as I cut him off at creek he started serching (this was at beginning of walk)-it was clear he was casting for odor becuse that is what he "does" - Telling him to search is a formality.

After a few hours of walking on a loose lead, meeting folks etc., we walked back through a field and he was "just being a dog" (you can tell the difference). Strange, though everytime I called his name with no command (I was contrlling his range more than I normally would) he would change direction and zig or zag in front of me like a bird dog or search dog quartering. But he was not working.

I got to thinking...well, we won't let him go out on a boat unless we are doing water training...how much being a dog in a park is too much?

Should we really go to parks and whatnot or should I just keep him onlead if he is not working? Some I can build into negative search time but we do that with training and this is different. He knew the difference at training Thu between work (there was a tempting stream which he pretty much ignored) and "we're done" (he played in the stream)

I really had not thought about this before.....he is a fun dog to be out and about with and my husband I are doing more weekend hikes; he has grown into neutrality with adult people and loves kids and is learning not to jump on them (I put in sit or down).

Edit-its really funny -- the one year old 80 year old "beast" -- everyone who met him KNEW he was a puppy. It is just his demeanor, his ears, his feet -- but they knew..... and most people don't know much. It is also funny. He IS a sable, but he is a very dark patterned sable and most folks perceive him as the typical GSD (B/T) .... They were always scared of Grim (black/sable) who must be a "wolf...even though Grim is a creampuff.
 

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I think as you do more 'fun' dog stuff with him, as opposed to training stuff, he'll pick up on the different cues that indicate a search, or indicate free off-leash time.

I sorta run into something like that with Gryff - When I take him with Keeta on a walk, he knows to just be a dog and sniff and mark and be a pain in the butt. When I take him for a walk on his own, he thinks we are training and offers heel and eye contact. Since Keeta has been limping, I've been taking him out on his own more, and he seems to gradually 'get' that he can just walk and sniff and not worry about performing for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I thought on it this weekend.

I do believe what we need to do is have him on lead on his prong when we go for walks in the woods etc and only take him off to work him. Either as a negative search to increase his nose clock or working small problems (Just take a small source with me in a waterproof match case). Most places require 6 foot leads anyway.

Somehow I think that is the right answer. Work is fun. Offlead is work. You play after work. Walking is companionship and also ok.
 
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