Puppy Tails (5)

Puppy Tails (5)


Continuing “Puppy Tails” detailing the training going on with our two young doggos – Rollo and Brina.

If you’re wondering where July’s post is… Well, it isn’t I’m sad to say. We’re in the process of preparing to move and time got away from me! However, if you’re in the same situation, please check out posts done by myself and Our Dog Friends related to moving with pets – link 1 and link 2.

Our Brina has turned one year old last month!

She and Rollo have been working recently on training commands, during on lead walkies – keeping them interested and engaged, to alleviate any frustration of being restricted to lead walks (now that the local livestock are back out in the fields) and to keep their focus on their handler. This has also come in handy with Rollo being restricted to lead walks for 2 weeks after a recent foot injury.

One of the commands we have been working on is “touch” – asking them to come away from whatever they’re doing and putting their nose on my hand. Rollo picked this up almost immediately, and Brina had the hang of it after just a couple of days – although Brina does like to put her nose and tongue on you 😅.

The idea is that these commands can also be used when the dogs are off lead, to come back (reward motivation) when I need them to. Dogs can become fixated on things that draw their attention away from you, and make them seem like they have selective hearing! They can grow out of this, with consistent training, but being able to manage their behaviour when this happens is key. No dog behaves perfectly 100% of the time, especially when they’re in their ‘teenage’ phase, no matter what some trainers will have you believe about their own (speaking from experience). So a variety of training commands for a variety of situations will prove helpful. So far, the off lead response to “touch” has been very good!

Brina is highly motivated by food, and will immediately “focus” when I give the command, when she knows I have treats in my pocket! This has helped train new commands, like “touch” as she quickly learns what behaviour she has performed that resulted in the treat and is keen to perform the behaviour on command, for a reward of course! Low fat/ calorie treats work best if you’re giving out a fair few in training sessions – remember that food/ treats given in the day will impact their daily food intake (so adjust as necessary).

Rollo likes to change his motivation – when he was under 1 year old, he was like Brina; highly motivated by treats. When he was around 1 year old he lost his interest in treats on walks, but was highly motivated by the reward of his squeaky ball! Now, he is back to being motivated by treats – but only by the right treat… Otherwise, the squeaky ball usually does the trick. Honestly, sometimes I think he wakes up in the morning and decides what he wants to be motivated by that day, in a training session or when a command is given! So, when we go out, I’m prepared with whatever I may need to keep his attention on me when necessary.

Alongside training “touch” as a new command, I’ve been reinforcing “go on” whilst on lead walks. When I’m training on lead, the dogs need to be focused on me as their handler, until I tell them “go on” which is accompanied by me giving them the length of the lead (providing it is safe to do so) and allowing them to walk for them – sniffing, dawdling, etc. (In my mind this stemmed from “go on, do your own thing”.)

It’s important to have a break command such as “go on” so your dog knows when training is done and they’re free to do their own thing.

“Touch” was initially introduced by asking the dogs to “sit” and “focus” (or “look at me* – whichever works) and me saying the word “touch” whilst gently touching my palm to their nose. After a few times doing this, I then held my hand close to their nose, and asked them to “touch”. This was then developed to be done whilst walking, and as a way to get their attention back on me.

Let me know in the comments or on social media (see below) if you try to teach “touch” yourself and how it goes!


To read the previous”Puppy Tails” please follow the links below:

Puppy Tails (1)Puppy Tails (2)Puppy Tails (3)Puppy Tails (3A)Puppy Tails (4)


All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.



If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…

• Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
• Instagram (@alis.animal.answers)
• Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
• LinkedIn (Ali Lloyd)

Puppy Tails (3)

Puppy Tails (3)


So, this isn’t exactly how I hoped this third post would go – I was hoping I could focus more on updating you with Rollo’s training progress but things took a bit of a back-step after Rollo injured himself in July! Poor pup was running and playing with his friends, when we noticed red on his leg – he had a fairly sizable (although, thankfully, superficial) cut on his inner thigh, close to the upper bend in his leg. He was stitched up and confined to the house and garden – no walkies, no running, no jumping, etc. whilst he healed.

As you can imagine, for an active 6 month old lurcher like Rollo, this was tough! He spends most of his time being very active and playful! But for two weeks, he needed to try and be calm and rest, without getting too bored! He was, for the most part, very good – providing we were relaxing and not doing too much, he was happy enough to relax with us.

I’m not sure what was worse for him (aside from the injury itself) and the “cone of shame” – being restricted to on-lead toilet breaks in the garden only for the first few days after the stitches went in, or after his first follow-up appointment when he was allowed to go on very short walks (again restricted on-lead) for a week, which has meant no off-lead running and playing with his friends, or the post-stitches recovery week when he was allowed mostly back to normal but still couldn’t run off lead with his friends. Thankfully that’s all behind us and he’s fully recovered and back to his mischievous self!

His recovery, once the stitches were out, wasn’t too bad – he was confined for so long, then for a week after his stitches came out it was necessary to restrict him to lead walkies just to make sure he did t over-do it; to ensure we got him back to full health in the right way (no sense rushing things and ending up damaging the leg further).

Rollo being restricted to the lead for a while did however highlight some training areas which needed more focus – specifically his lead and heel training. Because he is more often than not taken somewhere for walkies where he can run off lead with us or with friends, it seems I’d neglected lead and heal training a bit.

With this brought to my attention, I decided now was a good a time as any to recap this training with Rollo. He was not happy about his restricted lead walks when he was healing, but had come to accept lead walkies as it is preferable to being restricted to the house and garden! So I took advantage of his new acceptance of being on lead more than he liked by doing more lead walks, focusing on heel work with the command “on heel”.

Early “on heel” lead training back in May

I started by giving him a run or a play somewhere to allow him to burn off some of that excitable energy! It’s a lot easier to train a dog who can focus on you than one who is distracted with all their pent up energy and looking for a way to release it! We would then walk with Rollo on lead; when he naturally walked at my heel I would give him the command “on heel” (with the corresponding hand signal I chose) then click my clicker (yes, the clicker came back out) and give him a small treat – this was so Rollo would associate the command with the action he was doing. Rollo picked this up very quickly whilst on-lead and we soon progressed to learning “on heel” being off-lead.

Rollo will (more often than not) come “on heel” on command whether on the lead, moseying around off-lead or from a distance off-lead (he’ll respond to my “come” whistle (yes I whistle differently for different commands) and the come “on heel” to the hand gesture and the command when I give it, when he’s within earshot.

He’s almost 9 months old now so still very much an adolescent, and by no means a perfect teenager haha! His progress has been brilliant and I’m proud of how far he’s come. Sometimes the commands he knows well, need reinforcing when he’s pushing boundaries but most of the time he’s “such a good boy!” and he knows it!

“such a good boy!”

Look out for more puppy tails!

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