The lady is wheelchair-bound and has had 20-month-old Chihuahua Pepe for ten weeks now. Apparently he came from a home where they also had two big dogs.
He doesn’t bark too much, he isn’t demanding in any way, he doesn’t pull on his lead, he’s confident and friendly with other dogs – he has a dog walker. He’s not nervous of anything. He is fine with the people who regularly need to come in and out of the lady’s house.
He even takes himself into the sitting room with a chew when she needs to go out.
The problem is that with limited mobility, the lady needs Pepe to be more responsive to her requests.
He may go out in the garden last thing at night and finds it much more interesting than coming in to her when she calls him, particularly as she is unable to use a bright tone of voice.
When someone comes to the door, for his safety she needs him to jump on her lap before she wheels herself over to open it. It can take many ‘UP UP UP’s before he does so and she worries about the person waiting outside.
I asked her, “What do you think is in it for him to do as you ask?”
She replied, “I cuddle him!” I could see she thought that was a silly question!
Well, this independent little dog isn’t fussed about cuddles, possibly because she tries too hard. (I did find he likes a little tickle on his chest and behind his ears best).
The lady never uses food.
I demonstrated the power of food rewards by teaching him to both sit and lie down in about five minutes.
To get his attention she is going to use a whistle. It will be a bright sound. First she will ‘charge’ it with repeated ‘peeps’ followed by cheese or chicken (something special), many times until Prince gets the connection.
Then, when she wants him to come to her, one little ‘peep’ should do. She can immediately drop him the food which she will have beside her on her wheelchair in a pot or bag.
If she wants him on her lap, she will ‘peep’ and then pat her lap with ‘Up’. Then he gets his reward.
What a lucky lady she is to have rehomed such a wonderful little dog – a dog with no issues at all. He is obviously a very happy Pepe to be living with her too.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Pepe, which is why I don’t go into the exact details of your plan here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).