Jen Novice, Bunbury: I took both of my dogs to Becky’s Puppy Basic Obedience 1 course when they were puppies and recommend this course to everyone who brings a new pup into their home.
However, what I would like to highly recommend are Becky’s private classes. Ever since my Lab x Border Collie pup became this big, strong and crazy one year old, I have struggled to walk him on the lead. At my wits’ end, I contacted Becky for help and booked in for a private class. Not only did Barry’s behaviour improve drastically in the one hour class, but Becky taught me the skills, techniques and knowledge required to continue his training at home. Barry has become a dream to walk in less than two weeks and I am so grateful. Thank you Becky!!
Home visit: ARCHER, Bull Mastiff x Ridgeback, 2yo and ROO, Aus Shepherd, 4yo. Issues: pulling on the lead and becoming very excited when seeing other dogs. Archer was always good to walk, but since his owner’s girlfriend moved in with Roo, things have gone downhill. We started with general information on dog psychology. After that, we went outside and practised lead handling techniques with Archer first. He responded really well, so after just a few minutes we went for a walk through the neighborhood. Archer needed a few corrections when he got excited by barking dogs behind fences but was mainly nice and relaxed, walking by his owner’s side on a mostly slack lead. We practised with Roo next, he was way more excited and we could only do the exercises in the backyard and the driveway for now. Always practise in a low key environment first before adding more distractions so the dog knows what is expected of him! Once Roo shows more restraint, he will be ready to go on a longer walk!
Home visit: JAX and LUNA, Maltese Shihtzu 8 years & Golden Retriever, 8 weeks. Issues: Luna has joined the family a few days ago and Jax has a hard time accepting the new puppy. He started to growl and snarl at her.
My first impression when I met these two dogs was that Jax is clearly the top dog in this house! Therefor, it makes sense to him to make all decisions for his pack, including accepting new members (or not!). So the first thing we need to do is change the dynamics and empower the humans to be topdog! Most people make the mistake in this case to correct the aggressor, Jax, but observing them together showed that Jax is giving off a lot of signals when Luna is too pushy and in his face, that he is not comfortable with her being so boisterous. So here we need to step up and protect the older dog, telling Luna that she can’t pester Jax all the time and grab his fluffy tail (very tempting toy for a pup!) by intervening when we see Jax tensing up, turning his head to the side and give off other warning signals! A puppy playpen is a good option to give Luna “time out” when she is not listening to corrections until she learns to control her impulses better and start taking Jax’s warnings more serious!
House visit: Summer and Mo, Cav King Charles x Tibitan Spaniel, siblings, 1 year old. Issues: Jumping on owner and visitor scratching their legs until they get attention, strong pulling on the lead and no focus on the owner, barking at any noise and no recall when off lead. We started with going over leadership, rules and body posture. Exercises: correct the jumping up (they got it after trying twice!), they didn’t even jump on another resident when he came home! We practised wait at the door and the owner could walk both dogs on a loose lead after applying the techniques. Still plenty of work to be done with daily repetition but in 1.5 hours they showed huge improvement! Well done Jessica, Summer and Mo!!
House visit: Sophie, 17 months, rescue dog. Issues: overexcited, forcefully jumping on owners and visitors and nipping them, no recall, chewing/attacking owner’s feet, destructive (not much left of outdoor couch), too strong to walk on the lead (owners tried but arm still hurting 2 weeks on…).
We started by asking Sophie to be more polite, wait at the door instead of bowling people over, respecting personal space. When this went well we put the lead on her. She was a quick student and was walking and turning on a loose lead within minutes. Owners both were able to walk her on a loose lead as well. Little steps with this girl, lots of structure and rules, walking around the property on lead first to cement the behaviour before adding more distractions etc. Lot of progress in 2 hours!!
House visit: Tank, American Bully, 5 months old. Issues: pulling on the lead while out walking, overexcited when going out or visiting the vet, jumping on people, fighting the lead. I met Tank yesterday and oh boy, was he determined to dominate me! As soon as I stepped outside in his yard, he was jumping on me and his owners, using all the force in his young but powerful body! It took me a good 10 minutes to convince him that I meant business! Jumping, bumping into me, biting… you name it! Absolutely no respect for humans… After Tank had calmed down and behaved more respectful I had a chat with his owners we determined that Tank got away with a lot of bad behaviour without any consequenses. I showed the owners how to demand Tank to be more respectful by using body posture and sound correction. I don’t work with band aid tools like e-collars or spray bottles, I rather “talk” to the dog in his own language and change the behavior that way which is always very successful as dogs naturally understand this. We spend some minutes putting the lead on Tank as his habit is to fight the lead straight away by rolling and biting. He responded very well to my walking techniques on following instead of fighting the lead. This is a very gentle method by being very sensitive with the lead. Both owners were able to walk him this way. I left the owners with a management plan for Tank and homework for 2 weeks. After that, we’ll re evaluate and see if Tank is ready for more distractions.
House visit: BEAR, Kelpie x, 6 months old, rescue. Issues: nipping/biting 2.5 year old son, fearful of people. Bear has been in this family for 3 weeks now. Meeting him told me straight away he is an insecure dog who probably hasn’t had much exposure to strangers or the world in general. Lot of lunging on the lead and barking. I asked the owner to take the lead of. Bear jumped a few times on me trying to intimidate me but I ignored him totally. He calmed down quickly and started sniffing me which is a much politer way of meeting someone! After explaining why Bear acted the way he did and giving the owners instructions when visitors come over, we sat down to go over the behavioural issues. Bear had nipped their young son a few times when Bear was asleep in his bed and the boy went over and disturbed him. So what we needed to do is to create a safe place for Bear to rest without being bothered like a crate or barrier so he can relax. Children need to learn to respect a dog’s personal space as well! We worked on walking on a loose lead as well which he picked up instantly, and some recall games to teach him it is fun to come to the owner! I am positive that Bear will turn into a great dog for this family!
House visit: WILLOW, ELLIE and HOPE, Cavoodles 3yo and 2.5yo and Chihuahua, 7 months old. Issues: constantly barking, whining, pulling and lunging when out walking, no recall, anxiety. The owner told me the barking and whining got so bad that she is too embarrassed to take the dogs out anymore! When I knocked on the door, there was no mistaking I was at the right place, I was greeted by a whole choir! As usual, I got jumped on by the dogs straight away, but by setting my boundaries from the start we got the choir to calm down immediately. I started by correcting the one that started barking again using body language, which resulted in all dogs relaxing and calming down, something they apparently never do when there is a visitor in the house! We sat down and I was happy to see that the whole family took an interest in training these little dogs! Again, there was little guidance for the dogs in this household how they should behave and they got away with a lot, creating the anxiety as nobody took control over this pack! There were a lot of “Ahh!” moments when I explained the dog psychology side of it. We practised walking on the lead among other exercises, owners could hardly believe their dogs were capable of walking on a loose lead, being calm and just follow. Homework given for a few weeks, but I’m certain life from now on will be less noisy!
House visit: Willow, Shepherd mix, 8 months old and Dexter, Amstaf x Bull Mastiff, 2 years old. Issues: pulling on lead, reactive to dogs, digging, jumping on owners and visitors, chewing power cords, barking at neighbors dog on other side of the fence. Willow was adopted when she was 6 months old, she had never been on a lead or seen other dogs. We started by teaching both dogs to have more respect for personal space and working on the calm state of mind, especially when going in and out of the backdoor, not barging through but waiting to be invited in/out. Both responded really well to this exercise. After that, we took Willow out in the yard to work on her leash issues. We taught her to yield to the slightest pressure instead of fighting it and doing her crocodile rolls. After a few minutes she started following and turning on a loose lead and stopping without any lead tension. So great progress with this girl! Exercises given for the next 2 weeks to learn how to walk on the lead and find it exercises to boost her confidence and diminish her boredom. Will be interesting to see how she develops as she is a bright girl!
Private Lesson: CHARLI and CASH, Dogue de Bordeaux, 3yo and 9 months. Issues: ignoring owner on walk, Cash tries to jump on every child he sees, Charli tries to attack every dog she sees and Cash joins in. Very difficult to walk on the lead. We started with attention exercises and teaching the owners how to communicate with their dogs using the lead. Both dogs stopped pulling within minutes and were following without any lead pressure at all. This always astonishes the owners, but if you are clear what you actually expect your dog to do and give him a choice, you see immediate results! I used my dog Ceska to teach these 2 big boofheads to stay calm around a dog and keep walking and following the handler without lunging and attacking. We made so much progress in just 1 hour that I could even throw the ball for Ceska and both Charli and Cash hardly responded when she ran up and down in front of them! Owners will have to repeat today’s exercises in a low key environment and gradually work to a higher one but I have good hopes!
Private lesson: PI, border collie female, 1 year 3 months old. Issues: no life skills. Pi has been picked up on Sunday by Heather who rescues border collies. Pi was living in a small backyard where she was tied up as she kept escaping (who wouldn’t…?). The owners were going to put her to sleep because of her escaping. Thanks to Bunbury Vet Clinic she has a second chance! Needless to say, Pi hasn’t had any training in her young life. We started by teaching her how to behave on a lead which she picked up instantly, walking happily alongside me and Heather on a loose lead. Same with the “sit”, “down” and “come” command, such a smart girl! Very switched on little bc that just wants to learn and please, it was a joy to work with her today! No issues around other dogs either. Pi is up for adoption, she needs to go to someone who will exercise her daily, continue her training and can keep her as an indoor dog or have an escape proof yard!