Paws in progress

Tracy & Paddy

Tracy contacted me as Paddy was constantly pulling on the lead and had no recall. It had got to the point where Tracy was even considering rehoming him (he was becoming difficult to manage and walking him was not enjoyable). We have tried to meet once a week/once a fortnight, but sometimes there have been big gaps in training for various reasons (as we all know life gets busy).

Paddy pulls so very hard on the lead as is headstrong on ground scenting. 

From this I could see that he needed to learn self control, needed to learn to heel and also needed a reliable recall so he can be let off the lead.

 

For the first few weeks we carried out our training in the stable, where there are no distractions. We taught Paddy to give Tracy eye contact on request, we taught him the heel position and how to walk to heel. We practised the stay, and also started to train the 'leave' cue.

After a short while, we moved training to the drive. This is a nice large area with few distractions. Training was going well. The photo to the right shows Paddy carrying out a Sit-Heel-Sit routine, with focus and a variable reinforcement schedule.

Once Paddy had successfully completed training in the drive, we moved to the secure dog training area (grass surface, full of scent). We had to drop training right back to  basics and build on it as Paddy was so heavily distracted. We did this for several weeks, and Paddy did progress, but when we moved to another grass area, we found that we had to adjust the training schedule once again. 

 

I want to prepare Paddy for real life scenarios, so I changed the plan once again. I took a list of Paddys greatest distractions, and we went back to the drive so we could train Paddy in a controlled environment.

He is coming along well. The video below shows Paddy walking over several distractions - gravy bones, sausages and liver paste (which is a REAL success!).  As you can see, we have phased out food reinforcement, which is important for setting up a reliable behaviour in the big outside world!

The distractions are still covered up with plastic tennis rackets - although by the end of the session they had been moved out of place and Paddy was still able to walk over the food, on loose lead, without caving in! That is remarkable self control...

Changing his behaviour has been a lengthy procedure, but he is now coming on in leaps and bounds. This is because he has the understanding of what is required of him. Now its a matter of ensuring our training sessions set him up for success, which will take time but I am confident we will succeed!

Photo to right: Tracy carrying out a 20 second stay at a 10 step distance, with my Bracken as a distraction (they had only met a couple of times before this).  

We normally practice this in short bursts just as an added self control behaviour. Next time we shall add some food distractions too!

I am so pleased with Paddy's progress and it has been lovely to see Tracy's bond with him strengthen and flourish like it has.

Updates to come!