Leash Skills and Trust: Mike and Smokey Bear’s Success Story

| July 5, 2024

When Smokey Bear first joined Mike’s family, he was gregarious and seemed to be trusting of people. But after a couple weeks of settling in, Smokey Bear started to display some unwanted behaviours. He exhibited signs of resource guarding with his food bowl and toys, had difficulty settling at home, pulled on the leash, and showed reactivity to other dogs, some people, and loud vehicles. Smokey Bear also needed surgery not long after joining Mike, which may have caused some additional distrust.  

Understanding the challenges ahead, Mike and Smokey Bear enrolled into private training and behaviour classes with Toronto Humane Society to help Smokey Bear settle into his new environment and address these behavioural issues.  

Addressing Management and Leash Skills

During the initial session, Claire Blumenthal, CPDT-KA, FFCP, Senior Certified Trainer and Behaviour Education Associate, Public Training Services at Toronto Humane Society, provided Mike with management recommendations to prevent resource guarding in the home. They also worked on leash walking skills to help with Smokey Bear’s pulling and reactivity. Following this first session, Mike felt much more confident in handling Smokey Bear on the leash and managing his food guarding at home safely.  

Follow-Up Sessions: Behaviour Modification

Over the next few months, Mike and Smokey Bear attended several follow-up sessions with Claire. They focused on behaviour modification exercises for both resource guarding and reactivity. Smokey Bear’s personality quickly began to shine through, and each day he became more comfortable in his new home.  

After a few months of dedicated work, Smokey Bear no longer guarded his food bowl and Mike could safely walk past Smokey while he was eating without any incidents.  

By working on engagement and leash walking skills and incorporating daily sniffy walks, Smokey Bear’s reactivity greatly improved. He started settling at home more easily and was able to ignore most dogs, people, and loud vehicles during walks. Even during occasional reactive moments, Mike could easily redirect Smokey Bear and help him relax quickly. Mike and Smokey Bear continued to work with Claire over many months to address Smokey Bear’s excitability around his favourite people and other interesting things outside 

The Happy Outcome

During a recent follow-up with Claire, it was evident that Smokey Bear is now living his best life. Mike and Smokey Bear have made an incredible journey together with the help of Toronto Humane Society’s Public Training and Behaviour program. They are now able to enjoy quiet time at home and many peaceful walks together. Mike is now feeling confident in Smokey Bear’s ability to stay calm around many distractions and they are planning to join a group class in the fall. 

Join a 6-Week Training and Behaviour Class

If you are facing similar challenges with your dog, consider signing up for a training and behaviour class with Toronto Humane Society. We believe everyone should have access to quality, evidence-based training, and that is why all group classes with a 6-dog capacity is offered at $156 for six-week classes, and all group classes with a 4-dog capacity is offered at $196 for six-week classes. Whether your pup needs to brush up on basic cues, conquer leash reactivity, or have some fun with recreational agility or scent detection, our training classes cater to all breeds and ages. 

Further subsidized rates are available to individuals receiving ODSP, GIS, OW, CPP-D, or CIS. To obtain subsidized rates prior to registration, please email us. Join us in helping your dog become the best they can be, just like Smokey Bear!