German Shepherd. From yard dog to house pet.
With the help first of the RSPCA and for the past six months in her lovely home, German Shepherd Skye has transitioned from yard dog to family house pet amazingly well.
A guard dog?
In fact, Skye is more friendly with humans than many German Shepherds I have worked with. She seldom barks, so will have made a useless guard dog!
The former yard dog is still adapting to a world of countryside, cars, strange sounds and smells, different animals and other dogs. She is skittish when out.
Skye had never lived in a house until six months ago and with superb help has learned to adjust to home life beautifully.
To run free
What they dearly want for her is the opportunity to run off lead, free. They had hired a field and they showed me a video of her charging about. Joy!
For freedom to happen they need her to ‘listen’ when they call her back to them. When she sees another dog she can be overpowering – probably due to anxiety and simply lack of practice.
In her aroused and hyper-alert state, I doubt whether she will even hear them calling her.
To continue working on her acclimatisation to her new world, they will tailor walks to be less arousing, giving her maximum opportunity to absorb the environment in an unpressurised way.
Mooching. Standing still. Sniffing.
If they want her to come to them when called – what is she coming back to?
At the moment Skye is walked with an uncomfortable Halti round her nose and an extendable lead which means there is always tension – it’s never slack. This is both along the road and in the fields.
In the countryside there are so many smells and there is so much space all around her; being so restricted must be extremely frustrating for her.
With different equipment they could give her a great deal more freedom without actually letting her free.
So they will use a Perfect Fit harness which, with the lead attached to her chest as well as her back, will give them control should it be needed whilst at the same time be comfortable and less restricting for Skye.
Instead of the extendable lead, they will use a long line (I showed them how to keep it gathered up in such a way as it would instantly unravel should Skye dart for something – without taking their arm off!).
A while ago I made a short demo video – How to Become a Human Flexilead.
Yard dog now family pet.
While Skye is biddable and eager to please at home. Things are more stressful for her when they are out.
Now they will work on her recall, starting by priming a whistle at home to predict something good.
Continuing their good work and now using the long line and whistle, with Skye less skittish and distracted, she will in due course reliably come back when they call her.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help