Carol wrote me with a heartfelt letter, describing the recent events with her two Boxers (male and female)! I feel a little funny showing off a letter that gives me such praise, but I also tell my clients and readers to write anything that they want, and her intentions were to explain the progress she has had with her pups. For this reason, I will publish her story, and treat it like any other post!
Please understand, that I don't solicit such response to my work, and those that know me, understand that I tend to get a bit embarrassed by such accolades. But, how can I allow such a nice letter, and "POST" to go unnoticed! I wish to thank Carol and her pups, for being such good students! She and her son, do everything possible to be the perfect clients for a "dog behaviorist" to be effective with. They listen to every word, they practice with the "tools" that I supply them with, to learn how the mind of a dog, works, and how they can be an effective teacher, themselves!
Some of my techniques may seem a little different to some, but I think that this is what makes me an effective, and successful trainer! I take nothing for granted; I look for certain behavior and tenancies in each dog, and find out how best to reach the pup, and the owner, as well!
My name is Carol and my son’s name if Jeff. We have three dogs, two Boxers, Wrangler and Roxy, (brother and sister) 1 ½ years old. Our other dog is a 5 pound Yorkie, his name is Ziggy, he is 8 years old.
Wrangler joined our family a few months ago; the wonderful owner became ill and asked if we could take him. Of course I said. Adding another Boxer to the family makes for a very busy and crazy life. Wrangler and Roxy as I said before, are brother and sister, and they get along very well. They wrestle most of the day that their not running around outside in the back yard. As for Ziggy, well he stands aside and barks at them most of the time.
My first experience walking Roxy and Wrangler together was nothing but a horrible experience. They both weight about 60 pounds each and pretty much dragged me down the street. I told myself I would never walk them together again. Wrangler had no experience walking outside the house on a leash. It was all new for him. Not one of my brightest moments. They twisted around me and pulled this way and that way. I almost landed face down in the street. Truly, I wanted to cry and give up. Something amazing happened, as I persevered on my daily walks, separate with each dog, just down the street Wrangler and I meet a wonderful man named Allan Cornell. Wrangler and I turned the corner and as usual Wrangler wants to lunge at every car that goes by and people. One man tried to say hello to me (friendly and wanted to pet Wrangler), and I politely said he is in training and as I was pulling Wrangler from jumping the man and growling, I about fell down. I dragged Wrangler away and kept on walking. Not four houses down, Allan was outside his home getting ready to go golfing and said to me, nice looking dog. I did not stop because I was still trying to get over the last crazy moment with Wrangler. I said Hi and continued on my way. As Allen was driving by he stopped the car and asked if he could give me a business card because he was a dog trainer. My heart stopped when he got out of the car and approached Wrangler and me, my thoughts were this is not going to be pretty.
Much to my surprise, Allen came over and Wrangler did nothing but sit there as Allan was talking to me. I could not believe what was happening. Wrangler was calm and he lay down by Allan’s feet. I was speechless. At that moment I knew this man was sent from up above, because God knew I needed help with training the dogs. Plus the neighbors would like to see me walk the dogs instead of them walking me. I was so happy to find Allan and very excited to start new training for our dogs.
1st Day Training – Allan came to our house, and as usual the dogs go crazy running to the door barking out of control. My son and I try to get them to calm down and stop jumping on Allan. Allan told Jeff and me to stop; he would take care of the situation. Allan calmed the dogs down in seconds. Jeff and I looked at each other in amazement.
Allan spent some time with us asking questions on the behaviors of the dogs. During that time the dogs were calm. We decided to work with Wrangler first, because he needed the most training.
Allan took Wrangler by himself outside and walked with him. Wrangler did great. There is something about Allan that Wrangler really likes. Come to find out it’s the gentle calm spirit Allan has. He has a command presence with a gentle touch. I was always stressed when I walked Wrangler, praying we would not encounter a car or another person, God forbid another dog…. When we did, I got very tense and nervous. Wrangler picks up on my actions and reacted to that and would lunge out and start barking, it was scary. Allan showed Jeff and me how to use this new collar “Martingale”. Also gave us training tips as we practiced walking Wrangler. Using those worked that day when Allen was there. Next day, I was on my own, it was not so easy. But again, I kept trying to do the things I learned the previous day on how to hold the collar and try to be calm. It seems that it’s not about the dog, but about me and my behavior. Funny how that works. For the next week, Jeff and I would walk Wrangler with the new collar. We would have good and bad days.
2nd Training session. Allan watched me walk Wrangler and had to make a few adjustments. I did not have the collar around the neck adjusted property. I was not holding it upright, which kept Wrangler in control and as usual he was still pulling me on the walks. Small corrections that day made a huge difference. Again, for the next week my goal was to keep Wrangler from pulling me and holding the collar upright to gain control. Progress, finally. But only baby steps. I still had to deal with Wrangler jumping at gates when he hears dogs barking inside the yard. He lunges at the gate barking.
Much to my surprise, when I was clam and held the leash properly, it got better each day. I now purposely walk by those houses to see how Wrangler does. Before, I would avoid going near those houses to keep me from panicking. It’s not perfect, Wrangler moans now, like a whimper and turns his head toward the gate; however, he does not lunge and is in better control because I am in control now, not him. I can’t tell you how relieved I am not to have to prepare for a battle every time we get close to people and other dogs. He stills pulls me and I am working on that each day. Sorry to say, I still try to avoid people walking their dogs. I not comfortable yet to get that close, but I will soon, I know that.
3rd Training session: My problem is Wrangler has such a big head, when I put the collar up high it does not stay and he starts to pull me and walk ahead.
Plan B: We are trying a new harness/collar, called “Gentle Leader”. Much to my surprise Wrangler took to the new collar better than expected. At first he wanted nothing to do with it, but Allan is amazing with Wrangler and had him walking in minutes with new collar. Then it was my turn to walk Wrangler. He did very well. As I said before, once Allan leaves, things don’t seem so easy anymore. The next day, I made play fun the collar before I put it on. I gave him lots of love and encouragement and treats. He let me put the collar on without any fuss. The next step was to get him to walk with it again. At first he tried to pull it off with his paws. But, I had plenty of treats and the more I distracted him to other things, he seemed to forget about the collar. I spent about half an hour on our walk. For the most part he did well. What seem to work is letting him sniff around and eat grass and be flexible. I rarely pulled on his collar; it was very easy going, relaxed walk. A few times Wrangler would head-butt me on the legs and tries to pull the collar off, he is still not used to it yet, but he continued the walk and I was happy how it turned out. Normally, we walk very fast, that’s because he’s pulling me and I’m pulling at his collar. But not today!! Thank you sweet Jesus!
At this point you probably are wondering about Roxy. She is not forgotten. Having Roxy as a puppy she is used to our walks. However, she was in control not me. I’m using the same techniques with Roxy and she picks it up very well. I have a whole different demeanor with Roxy, because I’m comfortable around her and know how she is, with Wrangler, It was all new to me and I was a bit afraid.
Roxy did not like the “Gentle Leader” at first. I had to sit with her outside and give her lots of loving, and treats and more loving and of course and more treats. She wanted nothing to do with that thing around her noise. But if I distracted her, it seemed to be ok. Our walk was relaxed; however, she did not like the collar. I just kept on giving her more treats. Our first walk was ok, I’m pretty happy with it. I will let you know our progress in the next few days.
Saturday April 25thk, I’m very proud of Wrangler. This Saturday, we walked by a garage sale. Sitting and waiting for people to come were two lovely ladies. One was excited to see Wrangler. I kindly said he is in training. I said if you do not give him any attention and just talk with me, he will eventfully sniff you and let you pet him. I learned you don’t make a big deal over him and have casual conversation with others, he does not react. Again the big key is for me to remain clam, no fuss. It worked and both ladies were petting him. I was so proud. We also walked by a couple and I said hi to them, I kept on walking instead of crossing the street like I did before our training classes. It felt good. Honestly, I was still a little nervous, but Wrangler made me proud and he got a lot love and attention.
Funny thing, Roxy is starting to growl at people, which she has not done in the past. She is not happy with her new collar, but is adjusting to it. She walks nicely with me. Roxy gets a little excited when our walk starts out, she happy to be out of the house and walks fast. I continually slow her down. Half way through our walk she seems to relax and knows that I’m in control.
Monday, April 27th, I felt bold and took Roxy and Wrangler for a walk together. They are both still getting adjusting to their new collars. We did not have any distractions today; the challenge was to keep them from tripping me and getting tangle in their leashes. They pulled a little, but for the most part we had a smooth walk. I was happy with that. I still think I need to walk them separately for a while. I feel more in control however, I still need to work with them individually. I must say it felt good not feel like I was being walked and dragged down the street. My confidence level has improved and my neighbors have noticed the difference. So happy!
I’m waiting for the 4th lesson with Wrangler and Allen. More to come…..