These three things – pulling on lead, being reactive to other dogs and unreliable recall usually all go together. One seldom sees a dog that is walking calmly on a slack lead who is also on the alert for other dogs. A calm dog would have a certain relationship with the walker or owner – to do with respect and trust. This calm dog would be more likely to come back when called.
Heather, probably a cross between a Collie and some sort of Retriever, really is the model dog most of the time. It is her behaviour outside which lets her down. At home she is a polite dog, not pushy but not wanting too much touching and cuddling, but in a subtle way she rules the roost. She is, understandably, adored. Four young adults live in the house and all pay her homage! She has her owners working for her – doing things her way. They need to start to get her working for them instead! So long as dogs know what is required of them, they love this.
I demonstrated in the house how to get Heather following or walking beside me all over the place, longish lead completely loose. She was very happy with it. This exercise demonstrates the kind of relationship between dog and handler better than anything else. Initially most dogs will do this calmly for me but not for their owners. It is to do with how I have been behaving towards the dog from the moment I entered the house. She wants to work for me. This is the reason the owners need training as much as, if not more than the dog!
If they apply themselves Heather will soon be walking beautifully – relaxed and happy. They will know exactly how to react when they see another dog – but only if they need to. They will also work on Heather’s recall – and this will improve if in the house when they ask her to do something they only need to ask once – and they follow through. They should be sparing in their demands on her, but when they do ask her to do something, mean it.
If she ignores them at home – is it likely she will take note of them when they are out?