What our clients say about Jo & Graham Milgrew

Dog Training & Behavioural Therapist

29th June 2014

Jo & Graham Milgrew dealt with: Pulling on the Lead Recall or not coming when called
Photo of S.E.'s dog

We booked a session with Jo to help re-train recall and reduce lead pulling with our 18 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Willoughby. It was a complete revelation as Jo was about to establish in a few short minutes that Willoughby is almost certainly deaf. Willoughby had previously been very good with recall and I had spent a lot of time training him since he was 8 weeks old, but over the last 6 months or so he had rapidly gone downhill and was at the point where he wasn't listening at all any more. Well, no wonder - he couldn't hear a thing we were saying!

Discovering our lovely boy was deaf was upsetting, but Jo was so reassuring and was able to adjust her training plan seemingly instantly - she talked us through alternative training methods and ways to communicate with Willoughby so that he could understand and that we wouldn't feel frustrated. After a bit of trial and error we discovered he could hear a whistle and Jo gave us the knowledge we needed to get him back into the swing of training. It was so lovely to see him alert and wagging his tail, responding to commands again like he used to. Jo gave us a lovely gift, and that was the gift of confidence in our dog again - he was capable and was willing we just needed to learn new ways of communicating with him.

With regards to lead pulling, Jo was fantastic in demonstrating how to better control Willoughby with our ezydog harness and delivering some home truths about the problems of walking a puller on a flexi lead! We've taken these lessons to heart and have taken away the flexis, and are dedicated to following her plan and are confident with some perseverance we will begin to see great results. Thanks Jo!

Trainer note from Jo & Graham:
Willoughby is an exceptionally well trained Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. When a dog has hearing loss it is not always obvious to an owner. It is very rare that a dog will have complete hearing loss (just like humans) and loss is often gradual so a dog will develop coping mechanisms to deal with it. An intelligent dog like Willoughby looks for visual cues and responds as though he can hear when he can't. In Willoughbys case he couldn't hear any high pitched noises and that included a normal dog whistle. He did react to very loud banging and could hear a loud low pitch police whistle his owner fortunately had, but not to clapping and floor stamping. Stamping often does work as a dog can feel vibration through floor boards, but his owners floors were concrete so vibration didn't carry.

There are several methods for training deaf and hard of hearing dogs which we discussed. Willoughbys owner had already done a great job of teaching hand targeting (teaching a dog to touch your hand with his nose) so this could be adapted and used as a hand signal for recall. Normally you would call your dogs name and then use your hand to get your dog to come back to you and touch it. In this case the whistle was used instead of calling him vocally followed by the hand signal. Lead walking is more complex as Willoughby couldn't hear any vocal guidance so it was combination of using a 2 point harness to communicate physically with him and food to lure him to pay attention to his owner.

Training a deaf or hard of hearing dog can be just as much fun and just as effective as training a hearing dog. A bonus is that very often a deaf dog is more attentive to its owner once an owner knows how to communicate with their dog.
S.E.
Romford, Essex

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