When Pip first met Brando, my 3 year old Bullmastiff, he was fat, lazy and bullish. I fooled myself that this was typical of the breed and considered myself a dog lover. After all I do indeed love him and he was given at least an hour's walk each day on either Woodbury Common or the beach, a pretty good life I thought…... Pip soon showed me that by spoiling him with treats and using them as a reward for good behaviour I was not being a loving owner. I was killing him with kindness. By letting him run on ahead and lead the walk and so on I was telling him he was in charge, giving him the burden of being responsible. What he actually wanted and needed was leadership from me so that he could become and happy and balanced dog.
Oh how far we have come! He has lost a great deal of weight, no longer needs a halti and he is engaged with life! I can walk him around our local park, which I used to avoid like the plague! He no longer chases golf balls or children, he follows and listens to me! We were in the vets the other day and there were 3 other unbalanced dogs all pulling their owners around, growling and barking. One of the dogs was behaving so badly his owner had to put him in the car and then come back in to pay her bill! Brando sat like a statue at my feet ignoring all the shenanigans. I was so proud of him.
This past week on our walks he had started an old habit of running in front of me. I went back to all the things I used to do but nothing seemed to be working. It occurred to me that he was probably bored. So today we didn’t follow the paths on the common. We went ‘off piste’ and he followed me beautifully the entire walk. I have also started bringing his ball to throw or I find sticks as he loves having something to carry. He is so much happier and more content.
It is wonderful seeing his true character emerge. Pip has taught me how to enjoy a truly rewarding relationship with my dog and we are both much happier for it!