Living Between the Lines

We saw a dog…

We saw a dog…

Not a major event in most people’s lives but in Charlie’s? Well, put it this way, for the past few months, Charlie Brown has been undergoing intensive training to rid him of the panic he gets into when another dog approaches him while he is out on the lead.

He has been getting progressively more anxious ever since he was set upon by three dogs, in the woods, when he was a pup. Well, could that be the reason? Maybe.

Anyway, on a walk back in the Spring, we chanced to come face to face with two large dogs. Charlie immediately went into defence mode although neither dog was remotely interested in him, as far as I could see.  Hackles were up, a low growl emanating from his throat that fast became a yelp, culminating in a frantic yapping and snarling. He sprang into action.

Having Flossie to one side of me, I pulled hard on his lead whereupon he turned, presumably to bite at the lead but caught Flossie’s chest instead, knocking her off balance.

As Flossie slid down the embankment into the ditch in surprise, I naturally reached out to haul her back up. In the meantime, this action pulled Charlie towards me and as he spun round in a frenzy,  his teeth caught my calf. Thankfully, no blood was drawn. (It was painful though).

As the two dogs walked by, Charlie calmed down and we walked home, me muttering that his number was up. I was at the point of declaring defeat and handing him over to someone who could cope since this was the second time he had caught me with his teeth on a walk.

However, good sense prevailed and we engaged  a wonderful dog trainer, K9Whisperer, Paul, who witnessed Charlie’s escalating panic for himself.

Convinced we can reverse his behaviour, we have been given strict instructions on how to walk with Charlie who is under the impression he must be the leader on our walks and therefore defend when he is nothing of the kind.  I must teach him that I am the leader.

Right. Simple.

Having been given the techniques needed to help Charlie, I have been taking Floss and him out separately. Charlie goes out wearing a slip-lead which gives me control of his head (we hope). It has been my mission to convince him that I am the leader, so gentle tugs on the slip-lead to bring him back to my side if he strays, have resulted in me being able to walk along with him on a very loose lead at my side. I was advised to take him out at a time when  I was less likely to see other dogs, until this behaviour was embedded.

This initial improvement was accomplished quite quickly. Now it was time to meet other dogs.

All through the summer months, I have been taking Charlie out first and then coming back for Flossie or the other way round. On Charlie’s walk we have not come face to face with any dogs. When I take Flossie out however, we normally meet at least one if not more. It is extraordinary. I have varied the times, I swapped which dog I take first…either the dogs hear Charlie coming and decide to stay away or they just like Flossie better.

Determined to continue with the intensive training, I slipped Charlie’s lead on him yesterday and headed down the road. As we walked I saw a man coming over the brow of the hill. Wait, was that a dog he had with him? Surely not! 

To say I was not a little apprehensive would be wrong. I tried not to let this show of course. First rule: keep calm.

Charlie spotted the little white terrier and his ears pricked up.

I jerked the lead and tapped his rear end to distract him.

Charlie let out a low whine. He attempted rearing up on his hind legs to bark but he nearly strangled himself so thought better of it and obeyed the pull of the lead. I continued to walk, small sounds emanating from Charlie but no yapping, no snarling. The little dog walked by on the other side of the lane, not six feet from us and although I know, it was not perfect, Charlie still has issues, I was so relieved to be able to say,

“We-saw-a-dog and we-are-in-one-piece!”

Better the dog you know…Charlie happily plays with house-guest, Tommy
Flossie in close up
Flossie – everybody’s friend
Flossie and Charlie
Butter wouldn’t melt…

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • patricia60

    Lorax our terrier has been killing possums as of late and protecting his backyard from rats and skunks, but that has made him nervous and kind of attacking to small children and baby strollers. Yep we need to keep the trainer close with these smart, high energy pups! Nice story telling and cute pictures

  • hilarymb

    Hi Deborah – they all have their ways don’t they … well I congratulate K9Whisperer Paul … seems like he’s done the trick for you. Long may it last and Charlie will become the most excellent of dogs … almost like Flossie!!

    Great story Debbie … and carry on walking … I hope they can both walk together soon – and you all live happily ever after without teeth marks! Cheers Hilary

    • Debbie

      Hilary, is helping my eldest daughter with Tommy’s issues too (the black dog in the photo). As for Charlie, he is improving day by day so hopefully, he will be a different dog out on his walks in no time! Thanks for your good wishes…yay to no teeth marks! 🙂

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