Big-dog-little-handler: slow and steady wins the race.

We have been working on our recall for what feels like forever. It feels like it’s never ending. Duke comes so far. Then chases a bike, he jumps at a runner or acts like a general pest. It’s been hard work.

I’ve practiced his recall again and again in the house and out on little walks all in preparation for our weekend walks.

With my hubby out of action and unable to come on walks with us it’s been daunting. Especially as my nerves can trigger bad behaviour; like not coming back when called.

Our biggest problem is my nerves. Over coming them is the key to a good dog. The key to staying calm is focusing on the positives.

Friday Duke spent a lot of time off the lead during training classes. This was a bit of a surprise! My face probably showed how shocked I was at his progress. He seems to have suddenly learnt to be off the lead and still listen. About time!

During our Saturday walk I let Duke off a few times. The forest is a hard place for me to let him off due to his love of chasing cyclists. But with 2 other dogs and their owners I managed to let Duke off. He was surprisingly calm for the majority of our walk. Even walking on collar and lead rather than his halti when it was time to go back on the lead. I was impressed. He even managed to leave the other dogs alone and not be a pest!

I needed to keep him close so I didn’t throw his ball but instead kept it in my hand. So he was constantly looking at me rather that looking for a bike!

We are lucky to have one of the trainers from our dog group giving us some extra help on a Saturday so it’s not just me working with him.

Sunday’s are a different kind of beast. All the dogs walk together. The beach throws cyclists, horses, other dogs, runners and lots more at us. So lots of challenges. But we have most of our successful walks here.

Duke was amazing today! At first I found myself constantly calling him back to no avail. But after I relaxed things went a lot better. When I called him, he came, he ran with me, listened to me and even brought the ball back. I was actually really relaxed and loved it. It was a lot of fun. We were both covered in sand and shattered by the time we got home.

Duke chose to walk with me a lot of the time rather than the other dogs. Which is nice. I like having him off the lead but walking with me. It means he responds to commands a lot faster… if he is too far away Duke has a lag in responding to commands. The more he learns to stay by us the better he does.

Our wonderful boy did us proud! I felt a lot better and he listen to me; Clearly me taking a breath and shutting up a little helped.

We have been allowing him some “crazy time” as soon as he is let off the lead. But after he has had his crazy he tends to calm down. I still randomly recall him; so his expectation isn’t that recall means restricted freedom. He seems to be getting the idea.

Much more work to do but for now I am celebrating his success!

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