Posted 6 months ago ago
When Sam and Laura moved to the countryside their dream was of long walks with their much-loved doberman and boxer dogs.
But the dogs’ refusal to return to their owners when left off their leads made the despairing pawrents feared the worst.
They said, ‘'Our over-riding problem is recall.'
Sam confessed, 'I dislocated my shoulder the other day', as he tried to pull back Bisley, a 50 kilo Boxer dog. As for Madison, their doberman, Sam said he feared she would be ‘taken out by a farmer’ because of the way she won’t come back when she’s distracted by animals. He added, ‘The farmer would be well within his rights to shoot her’.
The couple also said that their inability to take the dogs for walks was affecting their relationship as every outing was a disaster.
Laura said, ‘Our two-year-old Doberman is a highly strung princess and Bisley, a five-year-old boxer is a likeable lump.
'They are amazing dogs in the house but outside everything we love about them disappears.
'For me walking them on the lead makes me angry and I feel like I'm always on high alert.'
Sam and Laura are two of the many dog-lovers who’ve turned to TV’s top behaviourist Graeme Hall to help them out.
In Series Three, of the hit C5 show Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, Graeme turns up to try and tackle the two issues - one, pulling when on the lead which caused the shoulder dislocation and two, the issue of no recall.
Yorkshire-born Graeme first watched the couple out with the dogs. As the two were pulled along a muddy track by their very strong dogs, he quipped, 'Two people being taken for a walk this, isn't it?
He then made the couple swap the dog’s collars - the doberman had been given a choke chain to try and ensure the couple had more control.
Graeme, nicknamed the Dogfather, explained how the couple had inadvertently ‘trained the dogs to pull’.
‘Every time they pull you say heel,’ he said. ‘So they think heel is pull.’ He added, ‘'As soon as they're off lead they bolt off. there's no consequence of not coming back.’
Graeme said excited commands to stop the pulling had been interpreted by the dogs as encouragement. He instead set out three new things - a new collar, slack lead and a calm demeanour.
When the dog pulled they got a quick flick and release of the lead.
Picture credit Channel 5
Miraculously the difference was almost immediate with Bisley and Maddie both responding angelically to walking on the lead first, with Graeme (as seen in the picture above here) but then also with Sam and Laura.
Laura said, 'I'm literally gobsmacked. 'I've never seen them walk like that in my entire life'.
Sam added, ‘I'm a little bit bitter if I'm honest. I can't believe this is it.’
The second issue of recall (or the lack of it) according to Graeme is harder to deal with.
He advised, ‘Recall is about repetition - hundreds and thousands of repeats.’
The tactic they used was both dogs on a long lead. The command was given ‘here’ and the dogs rewarded with a delicious treat and lots of praise.
Graeme explained to the dog, ‘'The only thing that will get you the treat is when you come when I call you.
Then to her pawrents, ‘If she misses her cue then a sharp tug at the long lead reminds her.’
The couple practice and they manage to get both dogs to return using just their voices.
Speaking of Bisley, Laura, appearing emotional, said, 'I've never, with my voice, been able to get him away. I never thought I'd be able to do it. Honestly, that's amazing. Yes!'
Sam added, ‘Walking the dog opens up possibilities' We are approaching normality and that's pretty cool.’
Graeme’s advice to stop pulling
- Use a collar instead of a harness
- Quick flick and release of the lead
- Lots of praise
Graeme’s tricks for recall
- Use a collar and a long lead
- Have lots of delicious treats to hand
- Sharp tug at long lead reminds dog to return
- Don't miss Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly airs on Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 5. We at TeamDogs absolutely love it. Graeme and your cravats? You're our hero.