Christmas is nearly here again and already it feels very festive with the very cold and frosty mornings. I love the sound of the crispness under foot, and actually enjoy layering up with plenty of thermals. It’s wonderful to be out with the dogs especially as the sunshine feels lovely and warming on the face. This is also the time of year that I start to get enquiries about buying a new dog or puppy with many of my clients looking to expand their families with a new friend, and in some cases, clients are looking to welcome in other new arrivals, like a baby.

Through my work as a dog trainer I meet many people from all walks of life, recently I have met several new people who are mums-to-be and who have already got a dog in their family. Some of the dogs are young and some are older but all have had the same problem of pulling on the lead, and quite understandably, the mothers are concerned that they won’t be able to walk with the pram or buggy with the dog at their side walking calmly without pulling.

The reality of course is that, with a pram or buggy, there is no hope at all of the dog going out with the owner whist she has the baby with her. And as is often the case the partner is working so there isn’t another pair of hands to help. So the dog cannot go out for a their daily walk/ exercise which in turn can cause other problems.

Not everyone has a trained dog and knows what is expected of it .Many dog owners have never been taught the physical side of dog training or the physiological aspects, which is why I teach and explain some of the relevant physiological elements so that the owners have a basic understanding of where a dog is coming from. I teach this to my clients in their first lesson with me.

Recently I have had some very strange looks and some very strange comments as I have been walking down local lanes with prams and pushchairs, weighed down with heavy bags, with a dog in tow at my side. The mothers have been walking with me and at the same time I have been teaching the dogs how to walk with them, with this new machine with wheels going round, which to a dog are fascinating! This is often the first time that some of these dogs have met handles and wheels so we have be careful not to scare or frighten them but introduce them carefully.

Taken carefully and slowly we achieve what we are aiming for, which is; for the dog to understand that when this strange object, with the noise inside, comes out and they are on the lead they need to walk to heel and not pull. We often end the training with the dog being allowed off for a run and some controlled freedom.

Besides the strange looks that we have had, we have also had a great time with this training and I have been able to give also them some good old fashion advice for when their baby arrives, my previous career as a nurse working on the antenatal ward comes into play and I loved my time on the ward working with mothers to be. Although I never actually delivered a baby, since I have lived in rural Cumbria I have delivered many lambs which is always a joyous time in the countryside. Luckily I haven’t had any mother-to-be clients go into labour during our training, but if I did I’m sure my all my experiences would be very helpful!

My team and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

We will be back in 2014.

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