dog, Dog Care Tips, Dog Health Guide

Firmness Makes Dog Problems Disappear

I stopped working at the boarding/training kennel last fall, and have just recently started training dogs again for people. I have several dogs here, but training my own dogs is just plain fun and easy–and when you live with them, it is happening all the time.

I printed up some business cards, have let folks know and little training jobs have been trickling in. I am not trying to be a full time dog trainer–my main line of work is writing and graphics–but I feel I can help people with training issues, and keep dogs from being dumped on the road or at the pound.

I have perfected my training regimen with just a few quick jobs. No, I am not a boarding kennel, and I am not going to keep anyone’s dogs for two weeks, train them, then hand them back over to people who do not know what to do with them.

I am doing something altogether different and it is working like magic! My focus is on training the people to work with their dogs! I will certainly help with a new puppy, but my specialty is training problem dogs, or rather re-training them!

Usually only one lesson is required, and I guarantee remarkable results in that one session. I am certainly available for more sessions, but only one is usually required, because I show the dog’s person how to handle him.

Last week I had the most amazing session. My friend Kim brought her friend Valerie over for a retraining session with Val’s two little Yorkie/Shih-tzu sisters. Val lives next door to Kim’s in-laws.

They walked into my yard, and I got a great feeling from Val. She is a very smart, sweet lady. Then I looked at the two hyper, jumping, yipping little terrors on the ends of the leashes and thought, OH BOY! Val and her husband had been putting up with this canine nonsense for eight years?!?

I am not a little dog person, and these dogs were not just little–they were tiny! They were smaller than my chickens even! I thought about telling Val I could not work with them, but Val seemed to really need help with them, and after all, they are just dogs, tiny little dogs, but still dogs. And I know how to deal with dogs.

First, I requested that we all sit on the porch and chat for a minute, where I could let Val know that I love dogs, am not about to hurt dogs, but that we needed to be absolutely firm if we were to make any progress. Kim had already told Val that I have the ‘voice that can peel paint’, so she seemed understanding and ready to get to work.

My three dogs, who help me train, were laying quietly in a group nearby, and as the two terror sisters passed, they lunged at my dogs, who just ignored them.

“Those dogs!” Val exclaimed. “They did not even move!”

I explained that they were taught not to respond, or fight with other dogs. That is how trained dogs act. My two girls are Lab/pit bull mixes, and everyone thinks pit bulls eat little Yorkie nuggets, but mine just ignored them.

We proceeded to work for about an hour and a half with these little monsters, through trying to chase chickens and cats, lunge at pit bulls, yipping and jumping, etc. I had my three dogs sit on top of some large tubs that we use in trick dog shows, and Val and I walked the little dogs right past them, correcting them if they tried to lunge or bark. My dogs, of course, just sat there.

We finally got her dogs to act civilized, simply by showing them what behaviors would not be tolerated. Nobody abused anyone, or scared anyone, it was simply a case of you-are-at-my-house-and-you-are-not-going-to-act-like-that-here!

Most of the dog training problems seem to occur when people are not firm enough. Everybody is so worried about being abusive! Telling your dog (or child!) no and demanding he act properly is not abuse, it is discipline and the world needs a lot more of it!

In fact, training your dog is the absolute kindest thing you can do, as he will know what is expected and spend his life earning praise from his people, not getting hollered at or dumped at the pound. Not to mention not bothering everybody else.

Before Val left, I took several photos of her ‘new’ dogs. They were not the same things she had arrived with! That is my favorite thing in training–when people leave with broad smiles and polite dogs, saying they are leaving with a different dog than they came in with.

Val’s dogs were now quiet, and she was relaxed as well. My favorite pic shows an amazing thing–Val’s two little dogs are sitting quietly at her feet, while my overly-friendly deaf dog has his head under her arm. The little dogs just sat there quietly. Before the training session, they would have never let another dog get so close without World War III breaking out!

The next day, Kim called her mother-in-law, Val’s next door neighbor. As Beth answered the phone, her husband Ted grabbed the phone out of her hand and said excitedly, “KIM! I was just outside in the yard and those two little dogs Cynthia just worked with did not bark at me!”

So, I am making magic or miracles or something right here in my own yard, and all it takes is some patience and firmness and expectations. I sit with the owners before I begin to let them know what I am doing, that I have no intention of hurting anybody but that their dogs must learn to behave. So far, I have had nothing but extremely relieved and grateful people, but maybe someday I will find myself with a person who thinks telling their dog no is ‘mean’. Which is how the dog got uncontrollable in the first place. I am certain we all know people who just can’t scold their dog…I know several…

I am glad people are concerned with abuse, but calling everything abuse is not the answer. Abuse is tearing something down, destroying something. Discipline is building them up, having them meet expectations.

My dogs are the perfect example of happy, well trained dogs that are not abused. If they were abused, they would show fear, and they do not.

So expect your dog to act properly, praise the heck out of him when he does, and use a strong, disapproving voice when he doesn’t. It really is easier than people think.

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