Contact Mel on: 07711 424 431 or: email@example.com
I first contacted Mel after she was recommended by a fellow dog walker. I have two Labradors, Alfie aged 4 years and Poppy aged 2 years. Poppy was rehomed to us when she was 11months, she had come from a nice home but she had not been trained to walk on a lead, having been used to just running in fields.
The problem with Poppy was when she was walking on the lead and approaching a person with/without a dog she would bark and sound aggressive, she was perfect off the lead when meeting other dogs.
Mel came round and we walked her round the village, we didn't meet any other dogs (typical!) but she could tell from Poppy's body language that she was slightly stressed. Mel advised me to take her for short road walks without Alfie and when she first showed any signs of stress when seeing people/dogs to turn round and walk away. She was still allowed to go for walks off lead with her friends but I was to drive to the field, so avoiding the road walk where we may meet people.
She also advised me to gain Poppy's focus with an eye contact exercise, by encouraging her to look at me and learn that the word 'watch' means to look at me and away from distractions. I started to do this slowly, she gained eye contact with me more often and trusted me to be in control with decisions when out walking.
Mel visited me again with one of her own dogs and a helper to hold her, we started with Poppy looking at Tilly from a distance. Poppy showed some signs of distress so I backed away a little with her, still allowing her to look at Tilly but from a safe distance. When she was happy and calmer with the situation, I started to slowly walk towards her allowing Poppy to stop, look and have a sniff around. Poppy was also doing really well at telling me when she wasn't happy, she would turn away from Tilly and at that time we moved back again. This first session with another dog, ended with Poppy walking past Tilly on the other side of the road.
The next visit was with Tilly again, this time we started at a distance but we progressed to walking a short way together, at the end Poppy was happy to approach Tilly and sniff her, showing that she wasn't aggressive but excited and a bit anxious. I was really amazed and proud of Poppy.
The following two visits Mel brought a friend and her dog along so Poppy was experiencing the same situations but with a different dog. We went through the same procedure, allowing Poppy to see the dog from a distance and slowly walking towards the other dog. Poppy seemed more relaxed and was sniffing the ground and not taking too much notice of the other dog. I gave Poppy lots of praise and reassurance and rewarded her with treats as well. Mel got us walking parallel with each other and when Poppy was happy with this, we walked straight past each other. Poppy was interested in meeting the other dog without the pulling and barking which we had before we contacted Mel.
Between Mel's visits I took Poppy out on her own and then started taking my other dog Alfie with me as well, this was sometimes a bit tricky when approaching another strange dog but all I had to do was turn Poppy away from the situation if she got stressed or barked. She still sometimes voluntarily turns away herself and tells me she wants to walk away which is good.
The result I have is a much better behaved dog on the lead and she is less stressed when approaching another dog. I now know what to do when she shows any signs of stress. Mel's advice really worked with me and Poppy, and our walks are now more enjoyable. Thanks Mel!
– Poppy Smith
Poppy now happy to be near my dog Stan