You can see Poppy the black Labrador felt uneasy having her photo taken! She lives with Ellie, a Jack Russell.
The dogs have two very separate and different lives. During the day they go to work with the male owner to his workshop. He only walks them off lead in fields and he takes them shooting. I must confess that I’m not easy with some of the methods used with working gun dogs, but they are obviously happy with him and respect him. The dogs have a fulfilled and active life.
The main reason I am uneasy with his approach is that control is from the ‘outside in’ – i.e. forced upon them, and is more of a quick fix. I work on the opposite – from the ‘inside out’ where the dog learns to cooperate through choice. This can take a lot longer and needs great patience, but rests easier with me as the dogs learn self control.
At home they are ‘pets’. The lady is unable to show them leadership in the same way that the man does. Both she and her daughter like to cuddle and make a fuss of the dogs, but walking them on lead is becoming an increasing problem constantly watching out for other dogs and coping with the pulling.
Ellie is a real character. She was the bossiest puppy in the litter and is now, at six years old, very much in charge of the world! Poppy is a lot more timid, and feels threatened if approached too directly by people and is wary of dogs.
So, while the dogs get their exercise and stimulation day to day with the man, the lady can go back to basics with the lead walking. She may well take a couple of weeks just to get out of the gate with a calm Ellie! She will need to work on the dogs one at a time starting in the garden, and only walk them together when loose lead walking is established separately.
The lady is going to show the dogs, through her own behaviour at home, that she is in fact the decision maker and not Ellie. This will give Poppy more confidence in her. She will quietly show the dogs that leadership doesn’t require force. They will need to use their brains – work it out for themselves what works and what doesn’t!