In the photo the Romanian street dog is in a kill shelter.
Then a lady the from a local rescue saved the Romanian Mioritic Shepherd, in the nick of time. One day before execution.
Some weeks later Balou came to live with my client – into a very different world. Into a house.
From the start, the family have allowed their Romanian street dog, Balou, to find his feet, his big fluffy feet, without pressure.
This is perfect.
He has been allowed to decide where to sleep, where to sit, where to toilet (outside fortunately). He went upstairs when he was ready. He has been reluctant to go in the garden though that is now changing.
Balou can find very small things pressurising. For instance, he was just about to pee in the garden and the man spoke to him – probably to encourage him. Balou changed his mind and came straight in. A street dog isn’t used to someone talking to him or watching him while he has a pee!
The dog I saw isn’t the dog that first arrived. They have made great progress. He is slowly showing his true self as his confidence grows.
He is very peaceful, mostly lying about when in the house – so far! This could well change.
The one area where Balou may be under some pressure is going out on walks.
Only the man can walk him because the big dog pulls.
As a Romanian street dog he will have had one thing – freedom. Freedom to escape from other dogs. Freedom to escape from anything he doesn’t like. Held tightly on a lead he has no freedom at all and he may be becoming more reactive towards some people and some other dogs.
In this one respect only he’s not being allowed choice.
They will be perfecting loose lead walking technique on a longish lead with their Perfect Fit harness. This can be in the yard and near home until he’s relaxed.
There is simply no need to cover distance. Studies of street dogs show that they never go very far.
The walk is about information, not about exercise. The walk is about the journey.
Follow the dog!
For now they will let him do his own thing. They will let him choose where to go – and contrary to most training – they will follow the dog!
They will now resist using their own strength or holding him forcibly beside them. For Balou to feel confident he needs to feel free.
Covering ground isn’t important for now. When they get to the nearby field, instead of the lead they will put him on a long line – more freedom.
While he settles into the walking routine, they will avoid dogs and people. They will avoid going places they may have no escape route.
There’s no rush.
He just needs time.
This is necessary reading to prepare anyone for acclimatising a rescue dog from overseas – by my friend Lisa Tenzin-Dolma.