I’ve had my first pup Roy for close to 11 years now and truthfully, he’s been a very easy dog. I have done minimal training with him and he has turned out pretty great, albeit a few idiosyncrasies here and there. In retrospect, I think this gave me a false sense of security regarding my dog training skills. Now in his golden years, he has mellowed out even more and our life had settled into a calm predictable routine.
Enter Susie. Like many, my husband and I have caught the pandemic puppy fever and found ourselves with an 8 week old puppy at the beginning of January. To put it lightly, life is very different. Although we love her, there are moments that make me want to curl up in fetal position. Nothing tested me more than trying to walk Susie. This 10 pound puppy was giving me a workout just trying to get around the block…and she was getting bigger every day. She sounded like Hannibal lector, and to be honest I was embarrassed. She hated it, I hated it, we were on entirely different wavelengths and just failing to communicate. But thankfully, there was a simple solution.
Many of you have seen the Transitional Leash, as we use it at the clinic to bring your wonderful pets in and out. Let me tell you, I think every dog owner should have one of these (and no I do not work for the company). Depending on how you use it, the transitional leash works by applying gentle pressure on either the top of the nose or high on the neck (instead of at the throat—which results in those dreadful choking noises). Now, it did take some patience and conditioning to get Susie used to it but after a few walks and a few at home sessions (thank you Aleka) it was like having an epiphany. She is still able to open her mouth, grab sticks or pinecones, bark and do whatever she pleases—the transitional leash just gives her the ability to focus. It also has the benefit of putting me in a calmer state of mind, which Susie (and also Roy) can read. It makes for easier communication between Susie and I, and she is able to follow my lead instead of me trying to control her. Our neighbours probably don’t even recognize us on our walks now, Susie has taken to the transitional leash like a duck to water.
There are still challenges, and Susie and I have a ways to go. Thankfully, I am able to bring her to Liskey’s for a safe and structured way for her to be socialized and am grateful for all the help and tips I get from the girls there. We are also in a socially distanced online obedience class with Aleka, that has provided me with even more information to help Susie succeed. I am learning so much and am more confident in my ability to calmly communicate with both my pups. I am so excited to apply these skills and knowledge in clinic, and hopefully share any useful tidbits I can with the flood of new puppies we are seeing lately.
As an update, I am happy to report that Susie got an A+ for leash manners this past week at Liskey’s and I could not be prouder (her report card is hanging on our fridge).