Sunny the Golden Retriever

Sunny the Golden Retriever

It’s just over a week since I called Sally in tears because my lovely 8-month-old golden retriever had bitten me yet again while out walking on the lead. And this time he did it hard! 

I’d spent 6 months working hard to train Sunny; I read the books, we went to puppy classes, we even had one-to-one training and I did everything they said, using food to reward good behaviour. He was great at sit, stand, stay etc. But he mugged any visitors to our home and he was virtually uncontrollable on the street, lunging at people, other dogs, leaves… and biting me when I tried to lead him away. Again I followed the advice - stand still when the dog pulls, reward when he doesn’t, take him to one side and distract him with food when someone approaches. But he was just getting worse and worse. I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong.

Now, thanks to Sally, I do. My poor puppy was scared. He didn’t believe I could keep him safe because I wasn’t acting like a leader. Sally is training me to do just that – without treats.

A week ago, even on our driveway, I had to hang on to the leash for dear life if I wasn’t fast enough with the roast chicken when someone walked past. This morning, my neighbour was able to come up to us and chat for several minutes with Sunny lying by my side. He didn’t even react when a couple of dogs barked at him. And not a morsel of food in sight!

That was after just one session with Sally. Our second was this afternoon and, as well as improving my leash technique, among other things, she walked a devoted Sunny calmly along my street past several people including one or two cyclists. Before we met Sally, I wouldn’t have believed that was possible.

We still have a way to go but I feel we’re finally on the right path.