That being said, sometimes you can have one of those moments where you just shake your head and ask yourself what just happened.
We had one of those moments last time we took the puppies to the beach. Mr. C and Miss B love the beach. They had been there about three times already and know the smells and sounds of it. So, when we arrived at the beach, they were ready to go. We got the littles out of the middle row seat and were standing there with them on their leashes getting everything put away in the car so that we could take the big puppies out and head over to the water. Normally, when we open the back, we are both standing there to get them out, but Dad opened the back without making sure that Mom was right there. Before he even knew what had happened, both of them flew out of the SUV and started running toward the beach. Mom turned around just in time to see them running through the parking lot toward the path over to the beach, dragging their leashes behind them.
Apparently, we haven't worked with them enough on coming when called with distractions present. We watched in horror as they trotted quickly away from us. We followed them, but they knew right where they wanted to go- and it wasn't the parking lot. We watched as they trotted together out of the parking lot, across the street, down the boardwalk and over the dunes. Once we got across the street with the littles, Mom handed their leashes to Dad and took off running after the big puppies. By the time she got over the dunes and through the vegetation, she saw them all the down at the water's edge. There was a group of people gathered on the beach for a nature lesson, but Miss B and Mr. C weren't interested in them. They wanted to go to the beach. Mom called them and they both came running with big pit bull smiles on their faces. They came running over, tails wagging, as if to say, "Look, Mom. We did it all by ourselves." As soon as they got to her, Mom quickly grabbed hold of their leashes.
The park ranger who had been leading the nature lesson came over, and Mom apologized profusely for them running around without a person on the other end of their leashes- which were still firmly attached to their harnesses. The park ranger was very understanding of their high energy nature and was just glad that Mom and Dad were there.
The whole experience was a wake up call. You can't get complacent. Miss B and Mr. C are very sheltered. Mom and Dad work hard to keep them out of situations that have the potential of not ending well. The people that they get to visit with are people who Mom and Dad think won't hurt them or try to trick them into doing something that will get them in trouble. As a result, Mr. C and Miss B think that everyone they see wants to say hi to them and get puppy kisses. They think that the beach is really just a separate part of their own back yard. They know all about the beach, so of course Mom and Dad would let them run free- just like the regular back yard, right? Mom was tempted to load them back into the car and drive them straight home, but the innocent, happy look on their faces changed her mind. They seemed truly proud of themselves for going right where Mom and Dad wanted them to go.
We've decided that we need to change how we get them out of the car. Opening up the back without having them sit and stay first is apparently a bad idea. Usually, we tell them several times to sit-stay as we open the car and then grab their leashes right away. Not doing this was a mistake. We have also decided that we have to work harder on their training. We were training quite a bit at first, but somehow the training kind of slowed down. So we need to pick that back up again.
Having a leash on is not the same as being on a leash with a person on the other end. Even the most diligent puppy parent can have lapses in judgement or moments in which they aren't paying as much attention as they should be. It has to be an ongoing campaign to stay focused. Puppies are full of energy and are curious and mischievous by nature. You have to be one step ahead of them and be quick to intervene when they look like they may get out of hand.