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Help! I'm not making any progress with my rescue dog.

Don’t worry, many owners feel this which is why I always encourage new owners to keep a diary so that they can see the progress that they have really made. But if you haven’t done this yet, why not start today?

If you don’t measure your results you will have little or no idea if you are succeeding or not. This is one of the most common problems. If we have no starting place, then we tend to think the worse!

Let’s look at Distance this week:

What we are going to do is measure the distance you can get near to another dog – no I don’t mean just any random dog but ones that you can carefully consider that may be able to help you. We do this at our 121 sessions and try and help build up things slowly.

Firstly, you need to remember that although this a great way to see how you are progressing, but many things will affect it – duration and distractions will be the major ones, but also how you feel too. So, to begin with lets calm things down by using our 5 steps routine – designed to steady you both.

Now you need to consider:

- Time of day – some times are busier than others

- Type of dog – consider what you know already about your dog – do they get over stimulated by busy dog or off lead ones?

- Distance – be realistic as this is something to build up to

- Environment – dog park, seaside, quiet street?

- How you feel – Anxious? Nervous? Excited?

Keep things as simple as you can. Maybe set up some controlled meets with a friend who has a suitable dog. But if this is not possible, then plan. Have an idea of how many dogs you are likely to meet – choose wisely as your local dog field or park maybe too overwhelming for your dog just yet. You do not want to meet the overfriendly off lead dog just yet.

Now you need to find your dog favourite toy – or treat that they will literally come away from something else to get it. If this is a toy- it should be the toy you and your dog play with – no I don’t mean just throwing it about, but maybe you need to make silly noises with and play tuggy with. If they win the toy, tell them – yay you won – but hey look what I’ve got and produce another toy or treat that they will want just as much. Dog’s will play but you have to show them what you want them to do with you. Otherwise, they just run off and drop the toy as soon as something else catches their interest. This is the toy you are going to take out with you when you go for your first measured walk.

The first walk – decide when and where but be flexible and move away if it is too much for your dog.

Now you are going to try and walk parallel to the other dog and use your toy to get your dog’s attention – work at it and keep moving. Use your Five steps routine, the This way exercise or just play with your dog but keeping a note of the distance all the time. If it is easy – then edge a bit closer but don’t walk straight towards the other dog, walk up and down and see how your dog is coping. Too much? Is your dog licking its lips? Barking or lunging? Then move away – they are not ready yet. Take it slow and record it in your diary and try again tomorrow, maybe giving a bit more distance or a slightly calmer dog/place? If it goes well, do not rush but continue again tomorrow at the same place so your dog builds their own confidence.

Please remember that your dog's prior experiences will affect how your dog will react and to take things slowly. And maybe just some dog's will never want to play and be off lead with others - they may prefer to walk with you and enjoy your company. That's ok too.

Our group sessions will be starting soon, so if you need extra help and want a place to practice, then get in touch today. We will have meetings on Thursday and weekends for various ages and will carefully put the dogs together in safe groups. All dogs are fully assessed and worked with us beforehand, so if you would like to be considered to help your dog, then you must book your first session with us soon so we can welcome you when these groups resume.


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