old lady has young dogThe old lady’s friend says, ‘You are 85. She’s not the right dog for you. You shouldn’t have got her’.

This understandably upsets her. She loves her young dog although, despite being a very fit 85, she finds her a bit too much at times.

However, the lady’s daughter lives nearby and she is on had to help. She walks the 6-month-old Flat Coated Retriever daily with her own dog and they run free together off-lead.

The old lady wants to walk Daisy herself.

Daisy pulls. She could, with one excited lunge, pull the old lady over.

The beautiful dog was very pleased to see me. She jumped up and flew about. When we sat down, she constantly jumped at the table. The daughter was there as well and both ladies wanted to keep telling Daisy to get down.

Instead, I explained about teaching Daisy what they did want. I demonstrated. Gradually, with feeding her each time her feet were on the floor and teaching her to sit for attention, the dog was learning.

By the time I left a couple of hours later, Daisy wasn’t jumping up at all. She sat beautifully when she wanted any attention from all three of us. Now everyone else she meets must do the same thing.

The old lady will put Daisy on lead when a friend visits, making jumping on them impossible. She should try to resist scolding. At the same time, she will reward Daisy for sitting down or simply relaxing.

We may need to further rehearse this procedure on my next visit.

She only really wants one thing from Daisy.

She wants to be able to walk her.

This isn’t quite so simple as it sounds. To walk nicely round the village, the dog needs to be fairly calm. It could be risky if, in her excitement, she jumps up at people she meets.

She also needs to be biddable, so when seeing another dog, for instance, she doesn’t pull the old lady over trying to get to it.

The groundwork starts at home.

First they will teach Daisy to make some good decisions like keeping her feet on the floor. When we start the walking work in a couple of weeks’ time, another good decision Daisy will learn to make is to walk on a loose lead.

At present the daughter walks her to the fields on a collar and lead. When she pulls, the lady corrects her.

Correction doesn’t teach Daisy to walk nicely, it teaches her to avoid discomfort.

With a Perfect Fit harness and the right groundwork at home, the old lady won’t need to use correction of any kind.

They will make a start with the basics over the next couple of weeks. Then I will come again and we will make a start on the walking itself. We will begin with the technique for both the ladies and Daisy to learn. This will be in the house and garden only.

When ready, the old lady will start real walks on the pavements near home. She won’t take her to places where Daisy’s accustomed to off-lead freedom.

Jigsaw

Picture the whole thing like a jigsaw. For the first couple of weeks the old lady will start putting several of the small bits in without which the picture can’t be complete. She will look at Daisy’s diet along with working for food for mental enrichment and rewards.

On my next visit we will put a couple of the bigger pieces in: walking technique and some impulse control. The picture still won’t be complete.

We need to take things slowly, building solid foundations. Eventually all the bits will be in and the old lady should be able to walk beautiful Daisy around the village.

Her friend will be eating her words in six months’ time!!

When she matures, Daisy has the makings of a wonderful companion for the old lady. She has a lovely temperament. Just now she needs more direction by way of positive reinforcement for the desired behaviour. Consistency is key.

Three days later – an email from the lady’s daughter: just to let you know mothers said friend visited her yesterday and was taken aback with Daisies behaviour! Wonderful..

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV can do more harm than good sometimes. Every dog is different and every situation is different. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Behaviour and Support page)