Six months ago she took on Lily, a strong and active four-year-old Chocolate Labrador.
So long as she’s not stirred up, Lily is remarkably calm seeing as she has little in the way of stimulation or interest.
The lady is however having some predictable problems when out. She is unable to walk Lily on lead at all – fortunately she has fields at the end of her garden so Lily can run off lead but she can go nowhere else. The second predictable problem is that Lily doesn’t come when called – or at least not until she is ready.
When I arrived the lady was trying to hang onto Lily at the front door, afraid she might run out. She is small and unsteady, and Lily is quite big!
I shall be visiting her weekly for a while and we are starting off slowly, a bit at a time. She will, I hope, remember to reward Lily for doing what she’s asked as that should make her more manageable. Being a Labrador, Lily fortunately is very food orientated. She will shut Lily away from the front door before opening it. I showed the lady how to ‘charge’ a whistle for recall use and how to use it around the house and garden only for this week so that Lily comes to realise that the whistle means something special by way of food reward. I showed her how to walk the dog around her nice garden on a long loose lead – and although she was very slow she we managed, my arm through hers, before she did it by herself – and Lily was a star.
Apart from physical frailty, the lady is forgetful and a bit confused so grasping and remembering my instructions is a challenge. Fortunately she lives very near to me so I will do everything I can to help her to keep her beautiful, happy dog without which she would be very lonely. She has never been without a dog.
Next week, if she has mastered lead walking out in the garden we will take walking out the front of the house. We will also do more with whistle recall. I feel she will soon need a dog walker if she can afford one.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lily and this lady, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog 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 dogs (see my Get Help page).