Big-dog-little-handler: My dog will never be able to do that!

My dog will never be able to do that, I’ll never be able get him to do that – I’m guilty of saying it. Not just saying it but of thinking and feeling it. The thing is it’s wrong! All dogs are capable of so much more than sit, stay and paw; even though sometimes it can be difficult to even get them to do that.

For six months I was saying I’ll never have Duke off the lead. Yesterday not only was he off the lead in the morning, but I dropped the lead at a dog show and even unclipped him at the agility ring there! We were there to do a demonstration for our dog training club. Duke was so well behaved, surprisingly, he has never experienced anything like it before . This was all a massive win for us. We were around loads of dogs and their owners. There were lots of smells, sounds and sights to contend with. Duke took most of it in his stride; even if he was terrified of some metal cows. He thought the cows were real!.

If you had told me this would happen 6 months ago I would have thought you’d hit your head. Hard. The progress is brilliant and unexpected.

We haven’t stopped there. Today Duke met a 4 month old puppy; the fabulous Inca. He played off the lead with her out on a walk and even played with her at home.

I did have to tell him to be gentle a few times. But all in all he was a good boy. Inca was a formidable force herself climbing all over Duke. We had a pretty successful walk out with our new four legged friend; I even managed to call him away from another dog while on the walk. These are all things I never thought would happen as Duke was always too boisterous or didn’t understand his strength. Being a big dog when he’s overly boisterous he can put other dogs off; scare them off. But he managed to keep himself in check so as not to scare Inca.

I’m incredibly proud of Duke at the demonstration. Duke only pulled now and again but in general he stayed pretty calm. We had minimal barking too! Even though there where quite a few puppies yapping around him. There was even a little doggy disagreement (which duke loves to get involved in) and Duke stayed next to me. He even did 99.9% of the drills.

There is still a long list of things I constantly say we can’t do. But more often than not we just needed a-little time, patience and focus (and a lot of support).

Bikes is still a big one for us. I genuinely thought I would never have Duke off the lead in the woods because he just loves to chase bikes. However we have encountered 3 slow moving bikes without so much as a bark . We are moving up to fast moving bikes but we aren’t quite there yet. I’m hopeful we will crack this one.

I’m starting to think there is nothing we can’t achieve!

Our next sent of goals ; to make it round the agility ring without nibbling me, to let the vet touch him (another post coming soon: the dreaded vet visit), not to jump at runners and make it through our Kennel Club Bronze award.

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