Tuesday 23 January 2018

Welcome Bill and Ben and advice on stopping pups pulling on a lead

We welcome Bill and Ben to our puppy program     

Two weeks ago I traveled to Lorockmor working dogs, in Shropshire to collect two German shepherd male pups aged eight weeks called Bill and Ben.  Lorockmor is owned and run by trainer and breeder Ian Morgan who also supplied us with our pups Merlin and Henry.

The pups traveled well and wasted no time exploring the garden on arrival at our house.

After charging around the garden for an hour they both fell asleep next to the Aga.

Bill is the bigger chunkier of the two pups.

Ben is the quieter of the 2 pups but both pups are very confident and outgoing.

They both slept right through the night then it was time for another blast around the garden before being allocated to their puppy walkers at HQ.

They have been allocated to temporary puppy walkers Mary and Margaret because the full time puppy walkers are on holiday until Monday 22 of January. Ben is on the left with Mary and Bill on the right with Margaret.

Like all pups they couldn’t resist seeing a moving brush.

Next after entertaining all of the visitors at the dog school it was time to start the next stage of their journey.

I waited until they had settled in to their temporary homes then paid a visit to see how they were getting on. Both have settled in well and both love to be out in the garden. Here are a few photos of Bill.

Here are a few photos of Ben.

They will be going to their full time puppy walkers on Tuesday 23 January.

I would like to thank Mary and Margaret for looking after the boys for me. They both tell me they are two great pups and they loved the experience of having them.

Training our pups not to pull on a lead

Our last training session was devoted to teaching the pups two disciplines. The first was when arriving at their destination in a vehicle they must wait calmly until the lead is attached before getting out from the vehicle. The second was when on a walk not to pull on a lead

Attending the morning session from left to right were Eva (11 months) Peppe (six months) Elsa (10 months) and her brother Eric.

Attending the afternoon session from left to right were Quest ( six months ) Henry ( four months) and Merlin. ( five months)

We started by looking at how the teams have progressed with teaching their dogs to remain in the car until the lead is attached and then calmly waiting until given permission to jump down.

I was extremely impressed with the progress all the teams have made with this extremely important exercise. Not only could it prevent an accident or prevent an injury to the handler trying to control the dog it teaches self-control and discipline. ( Well done everyone)

My favourite picture is Eva who quite fancies Eric and you can see in the picture she desperately wants to get out and see him.

Next we did some focus work which included adopting the round to heel position, sits and downs and just generally getting their attention. This was in preparation for the main lesson which was  getting the dogs to walk on a loose lead without pulling.

It was an opportunity for the ladies to watch and learn from the men but I’m not sure the ladies were exactly awash with knowledge and inspiration after watching their display.

Pulling on a lead

Pulling on a lead is always the number one issue for dog owners and our puppy walkers are no exception particularly when our pups get to six months because they become so strong.

During the early months of their development we do lots of focus exercises such as the sit, down, recall, stays, walking to heel and adopting the round to heel position.

Here is four month old Henry doing some focus work.

This is done in the house and garden which gets the pups used to working and enjoying time with their puppy walkers and they use tit-bits to get the puppies to focus.

This work is then transferred into their environmental heel work later on.

Here is Danno demonstrating to our puppy walkers how to walk a dog on a loose lead.

Because Socialisation is the number 1 priority in the puppy’s development in the first 3 months we don’t introduce too much formal environmental lead work during this time.

This is because they are constantly meeting new experiences and situations and our objective is to build their confidence without being pulled around and constantly being pulled back on a lead.

Here is Terri and Jill demonstrating it’s never too early to start with Henry in a nice quiet area.

The internet is flooded with  advice about how to quickly teach a dog to walk on a loose lead but from my experience I would say there is no quick fix.

Here is Eamon and Karen with Eric who is a very powerful dog. Karen is trialing a new 'figure of eight' lead and Eric is walking beautifully.

The reason it is so difficult for a dog to walk alongside us or just slightly ahead without pulling is the dog naturally moves at a much faster pace and the dog wants to investigate lots of smells, They also like to meet and greet other dogs which we have encouraged our pups to do from an early age in the socialising process.

Here is Eva and Lisa demonstrating they have certainly been putting the work in.

To start the puppy off with environmental loose lead work we go to a quiet area. The puppy already knows how to walk alongside the puppy walker and also knows the word we use for the position ie ‘heel’ or ‘close’ from the tit-bit sessions they have done at home, in the garden and at training.

Here is Steve and Elsa giving a text book example of walking on a loose lead.

We start off with the pup in the sit to get their focus and then step off moving forward knowing that the pup will charge to the end of the lead. The puppy walker will hold the lead with both hands and the puppy corrects him/herself coming to a very abrupt halt.

It is surprising how quickly the pup learns not to charge to the end of the lead. From here on in it is a simple case of stopping every time the pup pulls forward and the lead goes tight.

Here is Elsa showing excellent focus.

We stop and encourage the pup into the correct position. We then move forward again and we do so at a brisk pace which makes it easier for the pup to stay in the correct position.

We also include lots of halting in the sit and stands to keep the pup in the correct position and we will include lots of 180 degree turns going in the other direction which means the pup has to catch you up and as soon as the pup reaches the correct position lots of praise and or tit-bits.

Here is terry with Henry demonstrating an about turn with Henry.

Tit-bits are always kept in the left pocket NOT the right pocket because we want their focus onto your left hand side.

Because there is a lot of stopping and starting you need to set aside plenty of time. If you are in a rush don’t do a session because you will invariably become impatient and the experience will not be good for you or the pup.

Here is Jill with Henry who is wearing a new 'figure of eight' head collar I have been trialing.

There is no magic bullet to getting a dog to walk on a loose lead it is a case of repetition, patience, good communication, lots of praise when your pup is in the correct position and calmly guiding him/her back into position when the pup isn’t where you want the pup to be.

Here is Henry relaxing with Terry and Jill after a job well done.

One final piece of advice, once we start walking the pups environmentally on a loose lead we do not allow the pup to sniff or mark or pay attention to other dogs. We keep the pup on the move ignoring all distractions.

Initially this is a difficult lesson for the pup but it is surprising just how quickly they adapt providing the handler consistently applies the rules. Here is Danno clearly relaxed.

Obviously we don’t treat the walks like a disciplined route march we will include stops where the pup can relax, play, sniff or toilet. But the difference is it is we who decide on this and not the puppy.

In other words it is you who controls the walk and not you following the puppy controlling the walk. 

Head collars

When we are selecting puppies for the program we choose pups that are very confident, assertive, energetic, strong willed, very driven and extremely determined.

Those qualities in a big powerful dog like Eric can make it very difficult for some of our puppy walkers to control such a dog despite the puppy walker having carried out all of the training and work that I have outlined on a normal lead and collar.

So to help our walkers to have the necessary control over the pups we have for some years now used head collars.

Traditionally we have used Canny head collars and halti’s but I have recently been trialing a new 'figure of eight' broad soft webbing lead. I am very impressed with it because the wide soft webbing doesn’t rub or cut into the dogs face.

Whether you use a broad collar or a head collar the training and routines are just the same.

The pup must still be on a loose lead so that the head collar doesn’t dig into the pups face. You must always spend time for a week or two getting the puppy used to putting the head collar on with tit-bits and then taking it off before trying to use it on the walk.

I was very impressed with all of the dogs on our training day and I was very impressed with the new lead I am trialing. The feedback from the puppy walkers since our training day regarding the 'figure of eight' lead is very positive.


We have had a huge response for a home for Danno and I have spent most of the week visiting potential homes before making a decision. He has behaved impeccably in all of the homes we have visited. I will include a feature on his new home in the next blog.

In my next blog I will report on our pups Tag, Ollie and Oscar who will be starting their Initial Police dog course on the 5 of Feb with their new handlers.
Also we will know next week whether Sasha is pregnant after her mating on Boxing day with a lovely dog called Xato vom Sickinger Moorwerk who has sired many good dogs in both Germany and in the UK.  Xato is owned by Lyn Camden of Linern German shepherds in Ipswich and was imported from Germany.

Until next blog from me, Ella and Danno bye for now.

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