Training Otis – recall and walking on the lead

Two weeks ago we adopted a Romanian rescue dog (newly) called Otis. What a brilliant start to his time with us.

We’ve been working really hard on his training and specifically recalling him to us and lead walking.

For anyone thinking of going through this: be sure you’re confident in what you’re doing, put the hours in and go for it. Seeing the improvement from an afraid untrained dog into a well (better…) behaved happy pet is heartwarming.

One of our first challenges was teaching him his name. We did this by associating his name with getting treats, then slowly reversing the association – calling his name gets him a treat if he looks towards us.

Next was getting him to accept having a lead on – something that we don’t think he was particularly used to. To do this, we taught him that it was in fact a trick – “insert snout”!


Once he was really sure he was called Otis we started to develop his recall. Starting just a couple of metres away, calling his name and rewarding him when he walked up to us. We then used a long line to get him used to doing the same at greater distances and outdoors. Lots of intense effort resulted in fast progress – these next two videos are only two days apart!

Finally, now his confidence is higher we’ve spent the past week or so building up some discipline about how he walks to stop him dragging us all over the place when we walk him.

In this I’m building on the heel work and lead walking that we’ve been doing while on our way to the park. I’m aiming for him to walk nicely next to me, regularly looking up to see what I want him to do next.

To help with this, I’m still making some noises at him to get him to look up, then rewarding the look. Soon I’ll stop doing this and only reward when he looks of his own accord.

Stay tuned for more pupdates!

Otis the Romanian Megamutt

Two weeks ago we picked up this guy from a foster home.

Otis. When he was Boris. 

As far as we know, he’s been in kennels since about three months old and was probably a street stray before then. He has a bit of his ear missing (maybe to show he’s been neutered).

He was scared of people (especially men), scared of cars, scared of walking on the lead, scared of the lead and didn’t respond to his name. In other words, he was going to be a challenge!

This is the first part of a series of posts documenting how we’re doing with teaching him to be a happy, well-behaved pet dog. We’re writing it in the hope that what we learn along the way will be useful to others looking to adopt and (re)train a dog looking for a home.