Bruno, Ginger, Bogle, Rooney, Parker, Bella (2), Paisley, Mollie, Emily, Banana, Alfred, River, Zeus, Kacey, Nemo, Daisy, Harpo, Dixie, Cosmo, Stella (2), Hershey, Baxter, Ella, Dallas, Molly, Patton, Ryder, Luke (2), Suze, Millie. What do all of these dogs and their Pack Leaders have in common? Since the seminar in February, I’ve had the distinct pleasure and honor to work with all of them on behavioral issues. And these didn’t include our guys and gals who are taking the hands-on classes, or the ones on the schedule that I haven’t gotten to work with, yet!
They also all have something else in common: an unending love for their dog with behaviors that their pack leader would like to see different, and (for the most part) a commitment by their pack leader to stay consistent with the ritual of leadership. But if they don’t, or if all of the pack leaders in the house are not on the same page, the dog will not progress and their stressful lives (humans and animals) will NOT change. In fact, oftentimes, it gets worse because in the dog world it is a weak environment. But even children can become a pack leader; it happens with my clients all of the time!
Another thing they have in common is that they all have too much energy without the right kind of leadership, and that always spells trouble and frustration. WALK YOUR DOG, and stay in control of yourself AND them. The Walk is psychological exercise and by its nature is not physically draining; although the owners have seen their dogs lay down to take a nap immediately following my walk with them.
Calm state of mind in the dog equals less or no behavior issues. Dogs are ritualistic so staying consistent is a key element of rehabilitation. Then, the humans can have the life they envisioned with their dog by their side. Some of the success stories are: going out to eat in public at a sidewalk café for the first time – ever; having an entire neighborhood be able to come together outside with their dogs calm and mostly off-leash around each other; calmly walking or running alongside of them without the pulling and wrestling match on the leash; stopping the bad behavior of rushing the door and jumping on visitors; having their dogs be calm and social with new dogs after severe aggression before kept them from having conversations. And the list goes on.
Why and how can this happen in a two-hour session? Because I treat the dogs with respect as a dog and then teach the owners how to emulate that behavior. The dogs ALWAYS understand and follow the program rather quickly, even the aggressive ones. In fact, especially the aggressive ones. BEWARE of “training programs” that claim to take your dog away for a couple of weeks for thousands of dollars and return to you a “trained dog” because the dog is returning to the same unbalanced way the owner has treated them. Some of my clients are ex-clients of these folks. Beware of “dog trainers” who will sell you an e-collar for 4-5 times the price to accomplish “obedience”. Some of my clients are ex-clients of these folks. Beware of programs that claim to “speak to the dog” by taking your hard-earned money teaching you how to “grab the dog’s face and bark into it (yes, this is real, and they do NOT offer reconstructive surgery after you get your face bitten!) Some of my clients are ex-clients of these folks. And beware of training programs that promise you obedience training which is treat-based only as a “one size fits all” category of taking your money. Sadly, a lot of my clients have had these experiences and then contact me because all the other methods are not working.
They don’t work because they are not based in dog psychology and a mutual respect of the animal/dog/breed and creating leadership not “alphas” – they are based on human psychology applied to dogs. They represent a valiant and successful effort to steal your money and not help the dog, or you in the long run. The reason for unwanted behavior falls into major categories (too much energy, selecting a dog that does not match your family’s energy level or other dynamics within the family – domestic unrest or still grieving over humans or dogs who have passed) but you cannot treat each symptom of unwanted behavior by itself. You treat the cause of the behavior, then you correct as necessary. For how long? For the life of the dog; but once they understand the rules (and they do), you will correct much less frequently than when they are new, or puppies.
Until the next time, walk your dog (if your dog is too fat (or misbehaves), you are not getting enough exercise!) and keep being your dog’s calm leader!