But my last dog……!

by Karen Brady // January 2018

But my last dog……

Mr Cuddles was the light of my life, you may have read about him on my blogs before. He was beautifully trained, so well behaved and a joy to train and work with. Sadly in August 2017, he passed away from a sudden illness and I felt so empty. I’ve always fostered dogs so it wasn’t long before one of them ended up staying, a lovely old Labrador called Marley (who if you’ve been to classes some of you may have met! As I have attempted to train him alongside you!)

Marley was overweight so we had to work on his diet, and well he didn’t approve, he broke into the kitchen cupboards and ate everything he could find, from flour to tin foil. While he thought this was the best game in the world, we knew a change was needed, I had nothing to eat that night! I know it wasn’t his fault, he’s 12 years old, deaf as a post and has a lot of medical problems. Soon another lab came to join him, 6-year-old Lottie, also on a diet, very affectionate.

To start with, me and Marley were distant acquaintances.

I took on two dogs that had zero basic training. And every walk was a learning experience for us as we practised our training, get them to walk nicely, stop them jumping up at people and pulling towards other dogs. I would go home and miss my perfectly behaved Rottie! I thought to myself, I’m sure he was never like this. And I hear this a lot in classes- ‘my last dog was so easy to train’, or ‘my last dog was so much more affectionate’, ‘I didn’t need treats to train my last dog, he just did it’, and my personal favourite, ‘I don’t remember it being this hard!’. Truth is whether you have a pup or an adult dog, it will never be the same as the last time because every dog is an individual and every journey is different.

In reality, I think back to when I rescued my Rottie, the first 6 months he had knocked me unconscious, pulled me into the road under a car, it took months to build a relationship with him, and he took even longer to learn to listen to my partner. He liked to talk to other peoples dogs with his beautiful bark, especially when he saw my neighbours dog walk past the house! Quite the reputation he built up! But you know what, I pulled myself together, stopped blaming the dog and started working on changing his behaviour. Helping him learn to relax and walk nicely, to be calm and confident with people and dogs, and with time, patience and positive training, he became completely perfect for me.

So every time I think about how Marley and Lottie are hard work, and not like my old dog, I stop myself, and start training them, to make us a better team, to help them become the dogs I know they can be.

Even in the short time I’ve had these two I can already see the improvement, it’s baby steps rather than leaps and bounds, but we have recall on a walk, and some form of loose lead walking, no more jumping up at people, and settling down in the evenings while I have my dinner. They also now come and cuddle with me, wanting attention, and I find that so therapeutic!

As time went on, Marley started to cheer up, and like me more, hydrotherapy helped his weight loss and his mood! 

Training not only creates a well-behaved dog, it also creates a bond between you and your dog, and helps to make you a more patient person! I know that while I am getting up early every day and training my dogs, it will be worth it to help us reach our potential, and I know we will build a bond and soon I will be thinking, ‘how can any dog ever replace them’, because they will have become perfect for me.

The terrible twosome! I took them to training classes to start working on their behaviour, teaching them to listen to me and building a bond with them.

These days we all cuddle together, usually on the floor in the office! We get on really well, starting to build a bond, and learning to listen to each other.

Communication goes both ways!

 

If you would like your dog to learn some new skills, walk nicely, or come when called, or just practice their skills book onto our classes to kick-start their journey!  Call us on 01509 882316 or email us emidsdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk to find out more and sign up!