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Walk this Way?

10/06/2023 - General

Taking our dogs for a walk is supposed to be fun, right? After all, they need exercise, and as much as we’d like our dogs to run free all the time, it’s not practical, especially if you live in a built-up area. Dogs walk faster than us, and it’s simply a matter of biology, we have 2 legs, they have 4! There are so many exciting smells to be investigated they can end up pulling on the lead trying to get there.

Pulling on the lead is one of the most common problems I help with. It makes walks stressful, after all, it’s not fun being hauled around by a dog, especially if it’s a big dog wanting to go where it wants with you in tow. You’ve tried everything, and still no joy. The thing is, we need to teach the dog what we want it to do, and that can be difficult as teaching dogs is about timing, mechanics and reinforcement.
Let me tell you about Finn…

Finn is a lurcher who has the sweetest nature, he was adopted from the SSPCA by an elderly couple and has a wonderful home. He was found on the streets of Elgin in a bit of a state, malnourished, covered in bite marks and with an infected tattered ear. The SSPCA gave him what he needed, safety, food, and medical attention and adopted him out.

I first met him when his owners booked a 1-1 session. Finn had been in his new home only a few weeks and was still adjusting. It became obvious that he hadn’t lived in a home before, wasn’t toilet trained, and didn’t know what tv was, but he was a quick learner and soon adapted. The main issue we faced was that he didn’t know how to walk with a lead, he pulled all over the place, and with his human being elderly with health and mobility issues, it was clear to me that this was a real safety issue. Being pulled by Finn could result in a serious injury to his humans.

After a consultation where he was assessed for his behaviour and any issues he may have, we decided that booking a Walk and Train would be the most beneficial for them all. They desperately wanted to enjoy a walk with their lovely new boy.

I arrived on Monday morning to begin his training, and Finn & I went for a walk locally, it was clear that he wasn’t used to built-up areas. He was alert and coped well. The next day I took him to my dog school unit and started to teach him the beginning stages of how to walk nicely on the lead. I only use reward-based methods, and cocktail sausages were his favourite, so that’s what I used to help him get a positive connection to the lead and training.

He picked up the training really well, and I then started to take him out to different environments, which he smashed. He learnt quickly!

In the 2nd week, Katy (his owner) came out with me so I could transfer the skills to her and coach them both. Katy was also a quick learner and was able to take on the games we used for Finn.

During one session, when we were in a local park, Finn moved to the side, and Katy stumbled, his intention was to sniff. This raised my concerns further, and it concerned me that Finn may lose a super home if we could not progress the training to a safe level quickly. So off we went to a niche dog shop and got a dogmatic head collar. I know there are a lot of conflicting opinions about their use, but you have to weigh things up and look at things holistically and do what’s best for the situation, which was to help things along by using the head collar as a temporary measure while the training continued.

Finn was conditioned to wear this and adapted really well and quickly, giving Katy confidence to walk out with Finn. We were able then to try different environments such as the beach, which I don’t think he’d ever been to, let alone seen before as well as street walks and parks.

On the last day, we walked around the local area where they all lived, and it was a beautiful, calm and relaxed time. Katy had the skills to be able to walk her dog with confidence, no more pulling.
Katy was really happy with what we achieved as a team, and I deeply appreciated the lovely bouquet and 2 packets of cocktail sausages! But most of all the lovely letter from her saying how pleased she was.

So, Walk &Train is not just about dog walking, most people can do this, but our walk & train is about dogs who struggle with behavioural issues needing an expert to help them cope with a walk and help the clients have an enjoyable time walking their dog. After all, isn’t this why most of us get dogs?
If you would like a consultation to discuss your dog’s needs and think Walk and Train could help you and your dog, click on the button below to book a consultation! I look forward to hearing from you.

“Keep it simple, keep it kind.”
Denise Shirreffs