Big-dog-little-handler: one year of training.

So it’s been almost a whole year since we joined our dog training club! I can’t believe it’s been that long. Duke has changed so much since we first walked into (burst into) class on a Friday evening last August.

Has training helped?? Yes. 100%. Duke and we (Hubby and I)have changed for the best. I feel so much more confident. So much more in control.

Duke now has a recall!!! It does need work around certain distractions but I’m able to let him off and feel relaxed. I still get a tiny bit worried if there is likely to be bikes or runners but we are working on that. We are so lucky that one of the trainers, Phil, has spent a long time working on Dukes recall and helping us to understand when to allow him freedom and when to reign him in. Our choice of club (I stumbled onto it with a quick internet search) was a good one; they have been really invested in Duke. I feel confident to walk Duke solo off the lead.

I feel more confident around small furry animals (on the lead), like ducks and rabbits, I can hold his attention and not get pulled around the place. I can also keep his attention around strange dogs and people. Which is a win. I have even been able to call him away from dogs and people when he’s off the lead!

He pushes his luck sometimes and gobs off (Barks) he acts up now and again but on the whole he is pretty good in class. Classes have enabled me to be confident and regain control of the situation.

We have the basics down; Duke even took part in the clubs demo team. We are also booked on to do our Kennel Club Good Citizenship Bronze Award. So Dukes come a long way! He can, sit, down and do a minute stay… we are working on distance control. His emergency stop use to be perfect but we have got lazy at late with it so it’s slipped slightly but we are working on bringing that back up to standard.

The club have been so supportive of us, my hubby hurt his back in April so the family was a member down; I still wasn’t confident with letting Duke off without Karl at the time but they , gently, pushed me into getting on with it and we succeeded! His “come away from distraction” is getting so good. Most importantly we do most of our tasks in class off the lead. No more gripping onto his lead for dear life !

We started Rally and Agility and tried our hands at flyball, we have loved every minute. The mixture of activities has been great for Duke.

Duke has learnt not all dogs want to play so he doesn’t have to pester them all. Most importantly he has learnt people aren’t going to hurt him. For so long he was particularly suspicious of men but now he’s much more confident and happy to be in the company of other people.

I got to see that not only my dog plays up! And when Duke does play up in class people are laughing with you not at you which I love. Even the best dogs act up, which is brilliant. But most importantly I have learnt that every dog , like people, have their faults. They aren’t robots after all so if your dog barks at that stranger running up to you, or has eyes on that cow, or sniff the ground while you are trying to give a command it’s all natural. Some things you can’t prevent you only have to manage.

We have made lots of doggie and human friends. People who are like minded. People from all walks of life which is great.

Who doesn’t love spending a large portion of their week surrounded by dogs? We get to hear from those who have seen Duke develop and change over time. They are the voice of reason when he pushes us and we feel like he’s made no progress. They put us straight and remind us how far he has come.

The biggest benefit of training is we have a dog who’s well exercised, uses his brain all the time, well socialised (better social life than us) and two confident owners. We also have people to help and advise, to encourage and cheer us on!

Dog training has change all three of our lives.

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