Last night, along with other nights, I had been reading about natural dogmanship. I’ve seen some videos of Cesar Milan and I wanted to prepare myself to become that leader of the pack. I chose a few things from the knowledge I had taken in, to apply this morning in sir Oliver and my morning walk.
I started off with calling sir Oliver to come to the hallway, instead of coming to him when he doesn’t respond. It took a bit, but he came, and I then put on his harness. I know harnesses are not the best for this training, though sir Oliver doesn’t have the weight nor the size to use a slip chain. And my daughter doesn’t want to use tools like slip chains on her dog. I have to say it does trigger some, oh that is mean , within me as well. Knowing from reading and watching the materials that it is a training tool and it works quicker than a harness where the dog can easily starts hanging in it and pulling forward or sideways.
So I stepped as the first out the front door, we had practiced that already, but nice to see it still worked with the new approach as well. I decided to turn right at the end of the front garden unto the pavement, since that seemed to be his favorite turn. Not wanting to make it already difficult at the start. That was not the best approach, I learned a few minutes later. Sir Oliver obeyed the commands ‘follow’ and ‘heel’ and I slightly stopped him from pulling the leash. We ended up at the corner of the street and sir Oliver was not going to move any further.
I could see this was not going to work, and I knew I had to apply myself, and not taking the easy way out and thus waver within my stance. After 5 minutes standing there and trying several tricks, I decided to turn around and be the leader.
I had read about making oneself big, shoulders backwards, head up. And when I read it I thought: that is not going to work, sir Oliver will see that I am pretending to be the leader. One thing I had misunderstood was, making myself bigger was about assisting myself to get myself into this role of authority. From that moment on sir Oliver walked beside me, hardly pulling the leash, and for the first time we communicated.
On our afternoon walk with my daughter, she asked me to walk sir Oliver on the leash, to show her how I did it successfully this morning. It made me a bit nervous, asking myself if I just had been lucky this morning and how would sir Oliver listen to me when my daughter would walk with us? Even making up excuses in front of my daughter for whenever it would go wrong. Then I took a deep breath and committed myself to do the exact same thing I had done this morning and be the leader of the pack.
This was another successful walk I did. When we first got him, sir Oliver had not been difficult outside, once his dog brain labelled our behavior as pack member behavior and not top dog behavior, he began to take more and more privileges. So we had to rewind and restrict sir Oliver on his newly won privileges, in order to make him feel secure and happier. No longer having to protect himself and us on top of it. The funny part was that now I got the hang of it, I could not see how I could have missed it, how I could have been so human with him.
This evening my daughter wanted to walk, and try the new rules, and lead sir Oliver with her waist leash. With a few difficult moments here and there she was able to lead sir Oliver new style, dog style. So we both were able to turn that button in our minds of not wanting to be mean with sir Oliver. We could see how happy he was during these new walks, wobbling his tail again and being satisfied when coming home. Now he is so alert when coming home from a walk .My daughter takes that opportunity to do some clicker training right after the walk and he seems to enjoy it.
So overall we seem to be heading into the right direction, finding our leadership skills and seeing things from a dog’s perspective and not treating him like a human family member. We still have lots to learn about natural dogmanship, and there are still commands we need to learn sir Oliver. We showed ourselves and sir Oliver how we can be equal as different species, by respecting the other for who he is and acting upon it.