I knew it was time to do something about it when I visited the vets last week for their usual injections, and was pulled across the room by 75 kilos of black Labrador every time the door opened or a whiff of rabbit, cat or Chihuahua went waltzing by!
So I investigated and discovered a technique called 'amichien' bonding by a lady called Jan Fennell – the Dog Listener! The book is good, the DVD better, but better still, is a visit by one of her practitioners. So I booked one, and got stuck into my homework of reading prior to the training session.
Now my mother has always, it seems, had an uncanny knack of making the 'pogs' as she affectionately calls them, do what she wants. They come when she calls; stay when she wants, and when out walking on the lead, Mum's the only one Holly doesn't pull ahead with. A bit of a clue there, it seems. My mother is obviously deserving of respect from my beloved pet – but I'm not! To find out why, I read on.
I was not a complete stranger to the whole 'alpha dog' concept, after all, I've watched MonkeyLife on the telly! (see previous blogs) I had no idea however quite how far it extended across other animal species too!
Once I'd read the pages about how to become the alpha dog in your household it was like a light bulb went on! You ignore them!
They get attention when YOU want, not when they want. YOU eat first in front of them, they eat second. Amazingly, that helps them live a happier doggy life, not having to be responsible for the whole wolf pack/household, and according to feedback it seems to work!
So I tried it. At first, it took some discipline to not give in to their attention seeking. But once they'd given up, and settled happily, that was the time to call them over and give them some love! It certainly helps me, getting back from work, for instance, to know its ok to come in and have a cuppa and read the paper before having to sort out the pooches! Especially as it's all in the grand plan for creating happier dogs!
My session with Ben – in his Dog Listener sweatshirt – also made huge sense, and from now on, I'm going to put it into practice in the hope of one day being able to walk my two affectionate pets in the woods and not have to be on tenterhooks if suddenly other dogs appear in the distance – specially German shepherds – whom they particularly don't like!
My Mum the natural Alpha Dog
Now where does my mother come into all this? Quite simply, she's obviously a natural alpha dog. She always has been actually! Thinking back, all of our pets have always done what she wanted. And so have we! Apart from one memorable episode in my teenage years when I refused to do something and got a whack which made me shake my Anne French face cleanser all over the ceiling, (yes I was even using cleanser at age 15!) followed by a sharp exit up the road to school, I've never really crossed her.
None of us have. It was more than our lives were worth! And she didn't need threats to achieve it either – she just…naturally ran the family in an alpha dog way! So for her to have raised a troupe of 5 – I'm the eldest – has been no mean feat. She's now instilling the same sort of structure into her dealings with the 15 – yes 15 – grandchildren, all of whom love her to bits. I'm also looking forward to visiting Las Vegas with her soon, our first ever holiday away just us and my sister Linda. It will be enormous fun!
So mother, I salute you! I look forward to seeing you this weekend for our Mother's Day meal, after my early shift on QVC!
And as far as her secret is concerned, when I told her about The Dog Listener and how it works, she said, simply, "Of course, it's easy to let them know who's boss – you just ignore them"
Now how come I never realised that before! What I need books and training sessions to find out; it seems comes naturally to my lovely mother Lesley. One in a million!