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My Lurcher gets so excited when I say the word ‘walkies’, it takes ages to get ready for a walk because he wiggles so much I can’t get his lead on! How can I calm him down?

Denise Price advises…

Many dogs are bursting at the seams when they hear the ‘w’ word! All those smells to be sniffed, wee-mails to send and receive, that hour a day when they get you all to themselves… what’s not to love about walkies?

I don’t want to be the party pooper, but starting a walk calmly sets the whole tone for the outing. An over-excited dog is going to find walking nicely a real challenge – if you can get them out of the door in the first place! So, tip number one is avoid saying ‘walkies’ or whooping him up into a whirly leggy Lurcher frenzy.

I suggest you teach a calm down-stay with a big distraction while putting the lead on. For many breeds, a sit-stay may be easier to teach, but Lurchers don’t all like to sit, so for your dog a down may be more comfortable. I’m assuming your dog is familiar with ‘down’, so follow the steps below:

  • Ask for a down and reward straight away with a treat.
  • Repeat this three or four times before having a good play.
  • Next session, get the lead out and leave it on the side. Ignore any wiggly excitement, just sit down and have a cup of tea. When he has finally realised that you’re not actually going to use the lead, ask for another few repetitions of the down, rewarding each time and then put the lead away.
  • A few hours later, get the lead out and repeat.
  • When your dog starts thinking that getting the lead signals the down and treat game, increase the level of di culty. Ask him for a down and then calmly touch (but don’t pick up) the lead. If he can stay down, reward and repeat.
  • Next session, ask him for a down, pick up and put down the lead before rewarding and repeating.
  • Later, ask him for a down, pick up the lead, approach him (but don’t try to put the lead on), reward and repeat.
  • Next step, ask for a down, pick up the lead, touch the hoop on the collar (don’t put the lead on), reward and repeat.
  • Next session ask for a down, clip the lead on, reward, take the lead o , reward, put the lead away.
  • Finally, you can ask for a down, clip the lead on, and then say, “OK” and head towards the door in an orderly fashion.

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