When I first adopted my greyhound Luke, I tried bringing him with me up to the field to get Bronson a few times. It didn’t go well, even though he was on the lead. At the time, I was still quite new to the art of going through gateways properly with Bronson and adding Luke into the mix, it all got rather messy! He had a habit of freezing, if he didn’t know what to do, or was rushing through ahead of us and I clearly couldn’t communicate with both of them at the same time sufficiently. This wasn’t setting me up well in Bronson’s eyes either, so whilst I concentrated on getting more proficient, I left Luke at the yard each time I went up to the field.
The other day I went up to the field with Pip and she always brings her dogs, so I decided to bring Luke. He was on his lead on our way up and off lead on the way back down. He ran ahead of all of us on the way back and Pip explained that, as far as he was concerned, he had just led the ‘pack’ down the lane. He should have been behind us. I realised that the only way he was ever going to master the lane was if he was given the chance to practise. Pip has always taught me that we have to teach our animals how to do things and then trust them to do them.
I’m much more confident with Bronson and gateways now and so decided it would be a good time to bring Luke into the equation. We walked up through the fields to Bronson’s field and at first Luke didn’t want to follow us out onto the lane, so I just shut the gate behind us and walked off. He soon came up to the gate, so we went back and let him through. He then ran ahead of us down the lane. Something Brando, my Bullmastiff that passed away this year, taught me was that if he went ahead the best thing to do was change direction. So Bronson and I turned and walked up the lane the other way. I took it as an opportunity to practise leading Bronson, as well as training Luke! Sure enough, Luke ran up ahead of us, so this time when we turned about, I kept the lunge whip in front of me and let the cord swing from side to side a few times, whilst asking Luke to stay behind us. He then followed Bronson down the lane beautifully!
The lovely thing too was Bronson’s patience throughout the exercise. He was giving off this ‘big brother’ vibe. He really looked after Zeus, a new training livery, when he first joined the herd and seemed to be doing the same with Luke, giving off a calm, patient energy as we walked down the lane. I was relieved that we didn’t come across any traffic and the three of us came back to the yard, no problem.
In the following days, Luke has been up and down the lane with us every time. We’ve met plenty of traffic and have manoeuvred ourselves without any problems. It may not sound like much, but for me to be walking up and down the lane with my horse and my dog in an organised fashion feels fantastic!