Is Your Dog Friendly?

As I was walking Arthur again this morning, I was met with a large saluki cross bouncing around onlead as we walked down a very tight cycle path. I u turned pretty quickly as the owner shouted “Oh is he friendly?” I carried on walking away until we had more space. As she asked again more insistantly “Is he friendly? This one is”

I fumbled over my own words before deciding on

“Oh he is a mardy bum onlead”

Before Arthur exploded in lunging right on cue!

Then came the judgemental expression from the owner of the friendly dog with “Oh.. I can see”.


Sigh. Arthur is friendly. Arthur can struggle with face to face greetings onlead, but he is a sociable dog and loves to play. Arthur does NOT like dogs who are bouncing around onlead like maniacs, however. It makes him anxious as he’s been bitten on the nose more than a few times by “friendly” dogs.

As is typical of people who are desperate for their dogs to have onlead meetings, this dog was bouncing and staring Arthur in the eyes as the owner was clinging to the lead. This feels like an everyday occurrence these days.

Someone who has an over-friendly, undertrained dog asking me if Arthur is friendly. Usually, because I am trying to continue teaching him he doesn’t need to meet every dog we see, so have him to one side or am actively feeding him for good behaviour.

The reality is the question isn’t “Is your dog friendly?”
The question is “ Will your dog tolerate my dog pulling over to yours and jumping all over him and being very pushy?”

No one would ever even question anyone for punching another human who came running over to them screeching wanting a hug when they never met them.

Yet somehow we expect that dogs should all enjoy being pounced on by others! It’s “socialisation”.

I don’t expect any of my dogs to tolerate being leapt on and lunged at by dogs. I want my dogs to know they can feel safe onlead. And onlead with me.

Don’t get me wrong, Arthur used to leap around like a loon on sight of every dog we met, the solution wasn’t meeting more dogs. It was teaching him to engage with me.

If your making a big effort with your eager beaver enthusiastic greeter of a dog, keep it up and carry on! You will get there! Just consider if you think the other dog will equally enjoy the encounter with your dog when asking if they’re friendly.

I will continue to respond “No he isn’t friendly” and being judged because it is a bit more polite than explaining the fact their dog needs to learn to play it cool!

Catching up with Marley


It has almost been a year since Arthur came into our house like a little whirlwind! He came in and changed life for all of us with his various quirks. He settled in beautifully with Marley, and they have become firm friends, despite a few challenges along the way (Marley’s determination Arthur’s ears are detachable being just one!) 

It’s hard to believe that in February of last year Marley was struggling badly with pain and his behaviour was spiralling to such a bad level. Marley had always been reactive to people and dogs on walks, but this had become very manageable with a lot of work and commitment, with him and Ollie able to walk and see dogs with no reaction to the majority of dogs we saw. HowevMarley’seys behaviour was becoming very worrying in the home, he had began to redirect on people and dogs at events that triggered his anxiety. Mainly if someone at the door or dogs the other side of the fence. Marley would began to grab and bite whoever was closest whether human or canine when he could hear the neighbours dogs, and began to snap and bite towards us when we went to answer the door.

Along with this he had become hesitant about walking again, and had several episodes where he became lame suddenly and his gait just seemed “off” to me. He had begun growling when any of the dogs went near him when sleeping and started to lash out more and more. Marley has always had a lot of problems, quite a few of the more serious ones in recent years related to his Epilepsy. But he was becoming harder and harder to handle, and more and more agitated. We were told to greatly reduce his exercise to look for improvement. This seemed to help, and I continued to work solidly on his behaviour. Keeping him onlead in the garden and away from the fencing. Very carefully desensitizing him to the door being knocked on and me answering it, as well as ensuring he got the most amazing treats throughout. Marley is a pessimistic dog, so training is always a challenge. He needs so many more positive or neutral experiences to counter balance old behaviour patterns than the average dog.  His behaviour began to improve again and he began to relax more and more. (This is the super short version of his training!)

After many tests and vet visits he was diagnosed with Cervical Disc Disease, this was shortly after Arthur came home. Having a diagnosis was a great relief. Arthur began to bond closely with Marley and seemed to provide him much comfort when he was uncertain. I reduced Marley’s out of the home exercise for a while. It was becoming a challenge to walk him without him reacting due to pain, and on equipment that didn’t cause him further discomfort (he found harnesses most uncomfortable for some reason!) He has enjoyed much playing with Arthur, and brain games and only recently have I realised that Marley is actually much calmer and happier. I had always been incredibly worried about adding a puppy into the home with Marley, however for Marley it seems to have provided him a comfort. Marley has not had a seizure since September 2017. This is the longest period of time he hasn’t had a seizure since his epilepsy began.

Marley is enjoying life at the pace he dictates, and he’s loving that! He gets a walk if he wants, fuss when he wants, puzzles and training when he wants! He is still a much more confident dog than he ever was and I am keen to keep him that way by still taking him out whenever he wants a walk or to meet friends and their dogs he loves!

Why won’t my puppy walk?

Some puppies love walkies, from the very first moment they get outside they’re just having a ball. They kind of potter along nearby you taking in all the sights and sounds, likely leaping all over every passerby and wriggling away at every dog! Exactly what you expected owning a puppy to be like.
Some pups, however, don’t quite get the whole walking business. They potter along for a bit and then they put the brakes on. Looking uncertain they lay down or sit or simply attempt to break free of the harness or collar that is trying to hold them prisoner! They don’t seem to be enjoying the experience a huge amount and as we get more frustrated they do too.

      Arthur looking innocent

I picked up Arthur 3 weeks ago now, he is one of those pups! He is a confident young dog but sometimes it just all becomes a bit much. He stops. And he doesn’t often budge. I can get a toy out, I can throw some treats around. I can get all excited, kneel on the floor…yeah you name it I have tried it! He is just a bit miffed by this walking around business, sometimes he is bored, sometimes he is tired. Sometimes he simply doesn’t want to walk. At this age, my main concern is socialisation vs walking on a loose lead. I have seen too many dogs who have never got near people or dogs and ended up with issues as their trainer obsessed over them walking perfectly and having PERFECT manners. He is a puppy, nice manners get rewarded but I want him to be seeing the world I want him to be able to enjoy as he matures.

So here are my top tips for helping a puppy not keen on walkies:
-Do try encouraging your puppy to walk with you, it might not work but if it does, reward them heavily!
-Don’t drag, pull or chastise your puppy for refusing to walk, this will likely worsen their issues with the lead.
-If it is a certain area your puppy doesn’t enjoy/refuses to walk at. Pick them up before you get near the spot and carry them past it. This should help eliminate the behaviour if its certain places and a bad habit vs fear or anxiety.
-Try stopping and standing next to where your puppy is for a moment. Gauge how your puppy is feeling. Now try walking forward slowly again when you think they are ready if your puppy joins you reward them with treats. Sometimes our pups just need a moment and respecting that and moving on will help them.
-Reward them regularly for walking with you. If you like that behaviour vs them refusing to walk then rewarding that more will result in your puppy offering walking next to you more.
-Try walking your puppy somewhere new. Arthur actually prefers busy areas, so we are currently doing lots of trips to more interesting places. You don’t have to walk your puppy there, you can carry or drive them somewhere they prefer. The goal is that your puppy begins to enjoy walking. The time you invest now pays off big time later on.
-Play with your puppy on walks. I jog back and forth with Arthur and he realises keeping with me onlead is great fun!
-Practice leadwork in the home or garden aside from walks, so your puppy learns that being onlead is fun.
-Find a buddy for your puppy to walk with. This can help break the bad habit of stalling as your puppy doesn’t get to rehearse that behaviour when with their friends, they are more likely to continue walking (ensure your puppy is not walking with a reactive dog who they will pick up bad habits from!)

 *This blog is based on a Facebook Post I did. Arthur is now 9 months old and has not refused to walk AT ALL for 3.5 months*

Marley on Muzzles

Hello! I am Marley!
I am 6 years old and you might notice that i wear a muzzle on my walks. I thought i would post to tell you all why and how you can help dogs like me in future!
My favourite things are my ball and running around offlead, my least favourite things are new people and big dogs- they really scare me. When i was a puppy my breeder didn’t socialise me until i went to my new home at 9 months- i had never seen a busy road, other dogs, i hadn’t lived in a home before. Everything scared me, it took me a long time to realise there wasn’t a big monster at the end of the road that would eat me!

I started to like going out but people kept putting their hands all over me or squealing and making funny noises when they saw me. I was very scared and hid behind my persons legs , i thought i was being very clear that i was scared and to leave me alone. I did this for a long time but people wouldn’t listen, neither would the dogs i met who jumped all over me. No one would listen even when my person said i’m nervous and to give me space. One day i had enough and i barked at someone…it made them go away! I tried the same for a dog- that worked too! I started to do this alot and it kept everyone away- so i kept doing it. I started doing it when people came to our house, it was my place, what were they doing there? I just wanted some space for Marley.

A nice lady came to my home to help me, she was very nice but she gave some misguided advice. She said to let me bark and lunge at people offlead in the home and treat me when i stopped. I didn’t get it. I just wanted my own space and not to worry. Eventually i liked the lady but only because my person gave her my ball to throw- i love my ball! Lots of people kept coming round, i kept telling them all to go away but they just ignored me and wouldn’t listen. So one day i ended up having to be more clear and using my teeth, no one would listen to my warnings, i really tried. When people went to leave i told them to never come back ever again.

I can look very scary on my walks when i bark at people or dogs, i have never hurt anyone on a walk but my person understands it needs to stay that way. She cant tell people to keep away anymore than i can sometimes, some people think my barking is funny and want to talk to me even more! Or that i just need to get over it and be around their dog jumping on me. I am a good boy when i am given a few minutes to calm myself and to see nothing bad will happen. I just panic and get scared. I have lots of people friends and other dog friends who i love zooming with! Sometimes when i am offlead though i run away very fast, my tail is tucked because i’m scared. My person tells people that and to call their dog and they say whippets like running- not when i’m scared! I wear my muzzle so i can run offlead, and if people or dogs come over and i’m startled everyone can be safe. It means i can meet new dogs- i like little terriers who play, they’re the best!

I am not bothered by my muzzle, it means i still get to go out and be a whippet. It doesn’t mean i’m nasty. But it doesn’t mean you should try and stroke me still. I’m still scared, so if my person says not to, please don’t stroke me. If my person says i’m running away scared, please put your dog onlead to give us a chance to get away- we aren’t trying to upset your day. My person tries hard to walk me at quiet times. If i am walking away from you with my person, its because she knows i will be scared of your dog or you. Please do not follow us or throw your ball right by us for your dog to catch- it wont entice me to play, it will scare me! I am alot better and more brave now! I get better everyday. I also have epilepsy, this means some days i will be extra scared as i’m not very well and wobbly on my legs. So some days i will play with you and some days my person will say i cant play today. Its not personal. I just need extra space.

There are alot of dogs like me. If you see a dog being given treats at a big distance to you and your dog, it might be because they are in training like me. Their person probably spends alot of time to make them happier, if you are not sure if you or your dog can say hello, put your dog onlead and ask if you can say hello. Some dogs might be ok like me if you walk onlead together for a bit, that person will know their dog best and be able to tell you what to do for best if you can help and want to. Sometimes the person might just walk away chanting “lets go” it isnt the person being rude, they just think their dog might get upset and they are trying to help their dogs be happy.

Sometimes dogs like me wear yellow, it might be a yellow ribbon, a yellow lead, a yellow harness, maybe even a yellow jacket. It might be a muzzle ( you can even get yellow muzzles!). This tells you we need some extra space please! Sometimes we don’t make alot of noise , some of us just look worried. Some of us bark and cry. I am not always consistent in this! I do know I am Marley and i wear a muzzle because you wouldn’t go in a car without a seatbelt and my person takes the safety measures that i need so i can enjoy my life!