Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Happy Pets Norwich - Harley's First Week

I have heard great things about Attila from Happy Pets Norwich, however, nothing compares to actually seeing firsthand does it. Having decided to go on a 6-week training course, called the progress class, which incorporates obedience training, tricks and an introduction to agility I wasn't expecting much from the first hour.

The classes are held with a maximum of four dogs, which is pretty good and gives you practically one on one training. From the get-go, Atilla knew how to handle each dog individually and picked up straight away that Harley's barking was excitement and frustration. This gave me instant trust in him, so many times people misunderstand her and just generally think she is either aggressive or naughty, when yes in actual fact she is just frustrated and/ or excitable.

"When the dog does something wrong, the HANDLER is to blame NOT the dog!"

A lot of the time when she gets frustrated it is due to me "the handler", a fact most dog owners do not want or like to grasp. I am not very coordinated and when it comes to twists and turns etc. I get confused and therefore do something wrong, for instance, we were asked to do some heel work but turn the dog. I couldn't grasp this and kept turning myself instead and kept laughing, so Harley being herself knowing I was not instructing her properly barked at me. Just to say "Oi Mum what are you doing!" Atilla picked this up, came over and showed me how to do it correctly and also how to calm her down in instances where she has wound herself up, mostly due to my mistakes!

One method is to lean them against your side and massage them, whilst also saying in a very calm soothing voice your command for being calm. Mine happens to be the word calm, however steady can work also. This worked instantly for Harley and her tail went from hyper to down and just at ease, I could feel her put all of her weight on my leg too. Supporting herself completely on me, which proved that she was entrusting herself to me.

Another method we learned for distraction which Harley can have issues with on walks and in situations where she can get extremely excited, was the Watch command. Sounds simple enough, however, this simple command has truly changed my daily routine for the better almost overnight!

You get their attention using the command watch, throw down a treat behind you. This needs to be done just behind you though so that they stay in close proximity and then they will come back and watch you again quickly. After the first couple of times, I have been able to pretty much eliminate the treats altogether, however, it must be noted that Harley is 5 years old and has had years of obedience training.

This class has changed my daily walks to be much more pleasant and stress-free, even during our usual obedience lessons she has calmed down tremendously! From one lesson her whole outlook and body language are so much more relaxed, even allowing her to initiate contact with other dogs! Which for her is an incredible thing. I am looking forward to seeing what else the next 5 weeks has in store and keeping you informed of our progress! 

Always be kind, you never know what personal battle people are fighting.


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