Amazing world

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I take Brian to new places and watch how he explores the world and gets more confident every day. I love our walks because they are the best opportunity to teach my dogs how to react to most unexpected situations, practise recall and anything else we’re working on. I know best places, I know where not to go because there’s nothing to play with there, I know what to do when the dogs look for reassurance startled by a loud noise or some imaginary danger. Or at least Lily and Brian think I do because I behave as if it was always the case. I didn’t decide to be their leader to boost my ego, though it does boost my ego when I have two pairs of eyes watching me for directions. My role includes surviving on very little sleep and trying to be patient, even if that’s not an adjective I’d describe myself with. When things go wrong (and they do go wrong quite often) I bite my tongue, count to ten, breathe myself into calmness and start again.IMG_2956

Every walk is an opportunity to learn. We meet people, dogs, we hear new sounds, we’re surrounded by new scents. Brian is slowly getting less scared of strangers, he plays with dogs but comes back when called. But then, I see people who do everything to make sure their dogs are not coming to them when called and it makes me sad. I’m being complemented on how ‘obedient’ my dogs are (they are anything but) and I don’t enjoy the complements much because of the context-somehow it makes me desperate to make others understand the bare minimum they need to do to make sure their dogs are safe. What I do is simple and everyone can (and should) make sure their dogs learn recall. So what not to do is:

-shout the dog’s name repeatedly in an angry voice

-smack your dog as soon as youΒ  get hold of him

-run after the dog making lots of noise

-display all signs of dissatisfaction because the dog hasn’t reacted immediately

-put the dog on the lead when he comes back and immediately end his walking adventure

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The lead can’t be associated with ‘end of fun’. The owner can’t be associated with pain. The dog’s name can’t be associated with punishment.

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Being a leader means being wise, fair and responsible. Making someone follow you because they want to is harder than scaring them into obedience, but in the long term it’s the only way. Building trust takes time and patience, but being trusted means your dog will be loyal and you will be able to trust him as well. Being feared means you will always have to be prepared for a revolt.

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I don’t think most people actually want to scare their dogs, they just express their frustration and helplessness without thinking about the results of their behaviour.

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We expect our dogs to think about the outcomes of their actions. Wouldn’t it be better if we understood the outcomes of our actions first?

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30 thoughts on “Amazing world

    1. I teach them to focus on me, Brian is easily distracted, though. Dogs are good at reading our facial expressions (that’s confirmed by science, not just my opinion) so it’s easier to communicate with them when they actually know they need to look at me πŸ™‚ Teaching dogs has a lot in common with teaching people. I like physics because I loved my first science teacher, I have just learnt to appreciate maths because my first teacher was boring. Teachers are important-and you know it better than anyone else! πŸ™‚ So, the look is more: ‘what are we up to know?’ than ‘I’m bored and I’m here, do something’. Or so I hope πŸ™‚

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  1. It always amazes me that people wouldn’t dream of treating their kids like that but they do their dog!

    I’m in the process of training Roxy and she’s on a long leash as I don’t feel she’s ready yet. I’m doing all the things I should but what worries me is she’s young and looks cute and she doesn’t see what’s wrong with running up to strangers to play. There’s been a few dog thefts in my area and is scares me that she’ll run up to someone and they’ll take her. I guess I need her to grow up a bit then she’ll be ready. But in the meantime I make sure everyone stays to the golden rules.

    Praise when called
    Never use her name to tell her off
    Never call her to end the fun.

    Training is hard! But I believe that if you can’t be bothered to do the training you shouldn’t have a dog. I volunteer with two dog sanctuaries and I see too many dogs that are dumped because it’s too hard to train them! For me is not. Its part of the fun and reward of having a dog!

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    1. I couldn’t agree more. Good luck with Roxy, with time she’ll be amazing (because you know what to do)-and when the dog does what you ask her to it’s so rewarding that all the work you’ve put in it seems easy πŸ™‚ Love from us x

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      1. She’s learning somethings quickly so we’re getting there. It helps she’s a pig so food is a great way to get her to do something! But it’s not easy. Its too easy to call her name when she’s barking but the whole house has learned not to. We’ve always had older rescue dogs so having a 10 month old was a shock but we’re learning along with her! xx

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  2. Lovely post-Brian’s really growing quickly! I love the way you address the key issues of training in a way that every dog owner should instantly know and recognise. The confidence of your dogs in you as their pack leader is lovely to see : )

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    1. thank you, the thing is, I don’t think it’s anything extraordinary-I might train Brian one day, but what I do now is just very ordinary – he needs to come back and behave in a way that will make him suitable to be a family pet πŸ™‚ My own dogs are never super obedient, I like them to be a bit naughty sometimes πŸ™‚

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      1. That’s the beauty of it though…it may not seem special to you, but I see a lot of owners yelling, smacking etc. when the dog comes to them, ears flat, tail between its legs, that it’s a pleasure to read your blog and see how it should be done!

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  3. This post is certainly timely.

    Pretty sure I did some of these things wrong just yesterday out of sheer terror. For fun, I took Fergus with me in the pickup truck to take the trash and recycling to the local drop off place — big, wide open gravel space where vehicles can access the bins and turn around, etc. Out of necessity, I had the truck cab open while I unloaded some things and, for the first time, he climbed down and started running around. At first, he started to come to me when called, then another car drove by and he took aff after it. I used “come” and the emergency word “NOW!” — with his name– I’m sure with fear and anxiety in my voice. He finally came to me and the attendant who was also calling. I immediately put him in the truck in his harness, although I didn’t scold. Most scared I’ve been. If he’d been hurt, I’d be devastated. Well, so would he. Fergus is still young and I’m still learning so I’ll cut us both some slack, but I really appreciate your wisdom.

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    1. It’s never easy not to show emotions in your voice and body language when you’re scared. I’m glad it ended well anyway. I remember when Lily run off from the enclosed park into the busy road. She’s tiny so can easily get through even a small hole in the fencing. An experience I’ll never forget. And the only time I’ve seen my husband run! Good luck with Fergus-you’ll both be fine, I’m sure of it πŸ™‚ x

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  4. We sometimes have other people’s dogs run up to us, lean into us or hide behind us when their ‘owner’ is shouting their name in a frantic or angry way. We keep hold of the dog for them and ask them to calm down before clipping them on the lead and explain how they are frightening their dog with their own anxiety. Nine out of ten times it is fear within the owner and they are grateful for someone to calm them down and reassure them. Everyone I know, including myself, is on a learning curve as no dog behaves the same way and most people are doing the best they can with the knowledge they have at the time. On another note, it is lovely to see Brian grow into those legs, he is going to be a fast dog! :o)

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      1. I try to explain to them that it is their own energy that is pushing their dog away and that it helps to be more aware. Thankfully, it is rare that it happens again with the same dog and it is nice to see how the owner has become more mindful after the experience.

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    1. He’s getting there, but it’s hard work with people. He likes dogs, so I make sure we are out in our park when there are quite a few people with dogs. He can see that people are not a threat (because they have dogs).

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  5. shout the dog’s name repeatedly in an angry voice (I did this just Friday morning when Alcide ran after a bunny–I thought he was gone..It wasn’t an angry tone it was a frantic OMGOSH where did he go!? But I agree with ALL of these that you mentioned.

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    1. The ‘come’ command needs to be very strong (the dog needs to be conditioned so that it’s almost beyond his conscious decision-making process) for you to be able to trust your dog 100%. I know it sounds a bit silly, but even when you panic, try to sound excited, clap your hands, jump and whistle. It’s good to be more exciting than a bunny (but it’s hard work). Lily’s obsessed with pigeons, so I let her chase them, I show her flocks of pigeons when we go to the racecourse and direct her using my arms and words (left/right/forward). Apart from impressing people it actually has a proper function. She comes to me because I’m better than chasing one pigeon. I know where all flocks are! Disclaimer: Lily’s not catching them, she’s actually scared of them a bit-and they don’t really care πŸ™‚

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  6. There’s this guy who lets his dogs run loose around our neighborhood, and I always hear him shouting,
    “HEY! MAX! (I think that’s the one dog’s name, anyhow.) Get over here! HEY!”
    Now would YOU come to someone if they called you like that? Me, I’d run the other way. Which is what his dogs do.

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  7. I have read this post 3 times now since posted. Each time it gets better. Really sensible sound advice. Thanks really helpful. πŸΆπŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This post is a guide for everyone who has pets, including cats!! I don’t have a dog, but your wisdom should be spread to everyone!! I am sharing your post with others. I love the way you understand and love your pets!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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