Reflection of Positivity

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

With all of the emotional challenges I have faced recently, I have to keep focusing on the positives. I focus on how much good I do, and I also face the grim truth: We can’t save them all. But, the ones we are able to save will live on with better lives. I have to think positively.

So, this week’s blog is about my successes this year with my business and personal gains. At the beginning of the year, I had set goals.  Goals I had to accomplish in order to make a huge life change. To take a leap of faith, to make the jump. It all comes down to that decision.

My biggest goal was to get my certification. I have been talking to the owner of K9 Lifeline for quite some time (starting over a year ago) about taking her certification course. At the time, it was around $3,000 and 2 weeks long. Well, that means I needed the money, and I also needed 10 days of PTO. It takes a full month for me to earn 1 day. So, that was 10 months of absolutely no sick days, no vacations, and no ½ days for my own personal sanity. I started saving up my time last year around November. I had a few days saved, so if I didn’t take a day off for Christmas or any other holiday, or get sick, or have an emergency, I could take the course in July.

I had the time, but the Difficult Dog Workshop was in June, and I JUST HAD to go. Which cost me 3 days. That’s 3 more months of no sick days or vacation. I can do it, I know I can. That means I can take my certification in October, and to play it safe, let’s plan on November.

Then, I found out the eTouch Workshop was coming in October with another very reputable trainer. Ok, that’s another 2 days. Which means I’m looking at Dec/Jan. Ah man… at this rate, I’ll never get it. And I’ll never take a vacation!

Then I heard from another trainer that the course is a little cheaper, and is only 6 days, instead of 10, but I get the same amount of material. WHAT?!  Really?! I can take it now! So, the plan is in motion, and I hope to get my certification at the end of August! YAY!

Pack Walk 6/28/13

Pack Walk 6/28/13 (Click to enlarge)

I have also started doing my pack walks. This wasn’t a requirement, but it is a success, and I’m proud I have been able to organize this event. Every time I do them, they get a little easier, I gain a little more confidence, and more people show up for them!

I am now offering a nutritional workshop (hopefully twice a year) because so many clients have been interested in what is the best dog food or I’m interested in raw, I’m just feeding chicken, is that ok? I want to educate and help people do what is right for their dog. Wow, another big event, planned. Hook. Line. Sinker.

I have attended a few nutritional workshops, watched online seminars, increased my training network and made some awesome friends as well. I have read so many books, it sometimes feels I’m reading the same things over and over again. But, if I attend a seminar, read a book, or meet with new people at a workshop, and I learn ONE new thing, it was completely worth it. If I learn a lot, that knowledge is invaluable because I will build on that and learn more new things and become an even better trainer.

I have been asked to help during my trainer friend’s Saturday Socials, and I feel I am becoming more and more confident each week.  This was huge for me, because eventually, I want to run these. I have run a small social in my backyard with 11 dogs (specifically picked out who would be able to come) and I was pretty confident (but so nervous too!). I am more confident and assertive when I am by myself because I sometimes feel I am such a baby in this field, so when I am around someone with more experience, I tend to freeze up a little or my heart starts pounding. I have only been ‘on my own’ training for 2 years. I worked at Petsmart and did simple sit/stay training with my dogs in high school, but not like this.  I will someday be as awesome as these trainers. I can do it, and I am well on my way!

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

I have started boarding in my own home. This was a scary move, but overall, I really enjoy it. The dogs are kept safe, get plenty of attention and stimulation and are in a loving environment. And I get to experience what handling more dogs feels like in a safe way. I try to only board dogs I know for this reason. Sometimes, I board dogs I haven’t met before, and it can go either way. I had a crazy dog I boarded in the beginning that was a disaster, but right now, I’m boarding 2 that I had never before. Both are sweethearts, and I’m happy to have them! I get to practice some of my own techniques, I get to practice reading dogs I don’t know, and I get to practice walking multiple dogs at the same time. Sometimes this is a huge challenge because I’ll be walking 4 dogs at once, and only one knows how to walk on a leash nicely. So, we take an hour to go around the block. But that’s just it – I get to practice!

I have actually started making money, and even though I won’t show a profit this year (which is actually a good thing for taxes, of course), I will next year. This year, I attended 2 workshops (so far, and plan to attend another) and my certification course, which weren’t cheap. So, I made money, and then spent it all on workshops.

I have plans in the making to get a better ‘dog car’ as mine is really taking a beating with all the dogs coming and going in it. This may not happen next year, but the year after. In the meantime, I need to find a way to keep my seats intact! Even Napoleon’s kennel won’t fit in my backseat.

We have plans about our location for when I get more serious about doing this. Either having a facility on my own lot, or leasing/purchasing a facility in the future. This is WAY in the future, just a dream right now, but it’s something.

The biggest success, if you can call it that, would be the decision the family and I had to make about their dog, Ryder. You can follow his whole story here. He was a very special Merle Great Dane who had an unpredictable streak. He could be loving on you and playing, and then turn and bite someone. Unfortunately, these are some of the hardest dogs to work with because you can’t find a trigger. We thought it was men, hats, uniforms, etc – but, he wouldn’t go after the same person twice, or the same hat, and if you switched the hat with another person, he would be fine. 95% of the time, he was manageable and just needed training. The other 5% of the time, he was unpredictable and could seriously hurt someone. He was hard to adopt out, and we didn’t find the right home. So, we made the decision to euthanize him. We didn’t come to this decision lightly and it was months of talking about options. I won’t get into everything again, but this was the right thing. I cried pretty much the whole week, I was emotionally exhausted, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, I wanted a miracle to show up on my doorstep and be the perfect place for him, or I wanted Best Friends to take him. Neither happened. But now, I am at peace with this decision and I am still sad of the outcome – it won’t ever be a ‘happy ending’. But, I know he is running free and will be happy now, without having to worry about anything. I had to make this decision and it has made me a better trainer. This was a turning point in my career. I’m sad it had to be him, but I’m happy he is free and healthy now.

Most of all, I can’t ‘count’ how much I have learned this year, but I have really taken an initiative on learning as much as I can, and sacrificing so much to do this. I have also learned so much about myself, and I feel more complete because of what I have accomplished.  I don’t have the constant stress feeling of ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘I’m going to fail, what if I fail?’ feelings. If I fail, I get up and try again. If I get bit or kicked in the teeth, I put a band-aid on and try again. I won’t let other trainers, dogs, people, or my mistakes stop me from continuing on. I will learn from them and be a better trainer for them. I’m happy to take constructive criticism and coaching, but please – no need to be an asshat about it. I want to learn, and I can admit I don’t know everything.

I work in the dog industry, a bite is bound to happen. Not that I want it to, but just like working in construction, it’s inevitable. It’s not if, it’s when.

I’m happy, and I see an end to these 100 hour workweeks. I see a light, and I’m excited to see what happens. Scared, but excited.

I can do this.

Final Chapter: Ryder

Ryder3

Ryder, in the backseat of my car.

Ryder, the project Great Dane I have been working with for the last 8 months. If I were to look back at my notes from my last update and compare what said about him in the beginning to what I say now, here’s a comparison:

In November, 2012:

Ryder is incredibly pushy and a ‘jerk’. He jumps on people, has lunged at men (to bite, not to say hi), chews up everything, breaks out of kennels, counter/refrigerator surfs, jumps on furniture and is ‘out of control’. He is very fast and will knock you down to get where he wants to be. I recommend getting him neutered and we need to potty train and kennel train him first thing. I recommend leash work and mental exercise. I’m not concerned with obedience at this point in time. Receiving a bite may occur out of disrespect, not aggression.

Now:

With the last 8 months of training, Ryder is VERY sensitive towards corrections. Every correction must be very light. If the correction is too harsh (pulling too hard on the leash), he gets mouthy. When he gets frustrated, a bite can happen. The family has worked on Halti work, kennel training, mental exercises, and slowing him down around the house. He is no longer jumping, counter surfing, jumping on the furniture, and has slowed down quite a bit. He has a calmer demeanor and is no longer the jerk he once was. Now, he is very sensitive and wants to know what he can do to make you happy. He is potty and kennel trained, and now has more respect for humans. However, he is not to be trusted in the house or outside alone. He will break through fences to get where he wants, or will chew up things in the house. I recommend being on a leash at all times, even if the leash is dropped. This is a leadership exercise that will teach him you control space.

He has improved so much and has been in a constant state of learning since I have been working with him. He has been at my house a few times for boarding, training, and I took him to the Difficult Dog Workshop to learn more about how to handle dogs like him. While he was visiting me, I taught him how to walk on the treadmill, how to slow down and calm down on a dime in my home, and how to properly behave when he wants to go outside, wants food, or wants to play. Again, he isn’t perfect, but he has made major improvements. There was major work to be done, but I felt we were ½ way there.

I have learned so much from this dog, and I hope he has learned just as much as I have. Unfortunately, working with a difficult dog in an intense boot camp training setting is exhausting. The family has done everything they can, followed my training regimen, and really put the work necessary into working with him. After 8 months of intense training, Ryder has still made mistakes, and those mistakes are sometimes worse than others. The family is ready to find him a new home. I can’t blame them, I completely understand. It doesn’t make them bad owners or bad people. In fact, I LOVE this family.

But to make things even harder… I love this dog too. I am attached to him. My husband and I spoke until we were blue in the face to see if we can make this work. To see if we could take him into our home and work with him. Or at least foster him until we found the right family for him.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t do well with our cats (they are part of the problem – they egg him on until he gets in trouble), and I don’t have the necessary time to devote to working with him. As much as I want to believe I could get up an hour earlier in the mornings, leave earlier to work, come home earlier to work with him, and then train him after my evening training appointments… I know it isn’t realistic. It wouldn’t be fair to him.

failI feel I failed him. I feel like if I had more experience in training, or if I could have done a board and train (not doing those for a while).. things would be different. Did I do something wrong? Have I really failed? What can I do? I’m feeling all kinds of not good feelings about this. I don’t blame the family, it’s not their fault. They hired me to help them train Ryder. And he’s not trained enough. What else could I do? I know this happens in the dog training world. Every dog is an individual and learns at their own pace. I also know he did make major improvements. But it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t able to keep him in his current situation. Some dogs choose not to learn. I don’t feel this was the case with Ryder. He is just super sensitive, not dumb. I saw remarkable learning capabilities when he was at my house. He learned how to properly walk on a treadmill without me being next to him in 3 days. I’m trying hard to feel that I did everything. I’m trying to hard to feel like I didn’t fail and that I did do everything I could. But now, what else can I do? I can get him into a different situation. I can help find another home for him and get him into a situation where he will succeed.

If you, or someone you know, feels that they can take on Ryder into their family and give him the training and time he deserves, please let me know.  It needs to be a good fit – this is the biggest factor in finding him a new home. I want to set him up to succeed in his new household by starting out on the right foot.

So please – no cats, and no small children. He is good with other dogs, and a calm dog would help him settle in quickly, and teach him how to slow down. He would do best in a household where someone is home during the day so they can continue is training.

Off-Leash Excursion

Sorry for the late post, this was from last week… Been busy with boarding, classes, and extra training hours…

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As you know, Napoleon has been enrolled in a boot camp for the last few weeks. We have been putting him through some more strenuous training with distractions and teaching him more impulse control, along with psychological exercises throughout the day.

On Wednesday, we had a successful training session, that lasted about an hour long. Didn’t mean for it to be that long, but my neighbor decided to walk with me, and we ended up at the park, so we trained there – with distractions, of course.

Napoleon and meThe walk started on leash, and Napoleon has to be in a loose-leash heel position. I am very relaxed on this particular command-he can be a little ahead of me, as long as he isn’t pulling or lunging out in front of me. He is not allowed to sniff, mark, say hello, or pull on the leash, however. He was doing fabulous, with minor corrections.

My neighbor (he’s 12), was on a bike, and riding around us in on the sidewalk and the street. He was in front sometimes, beside Napoleon, in the street, or behind us. I used him as a distraction and worked on Stays (sitting, standing, laying down) while I went about 20 feet in front of him with a long lead. He did great! He’s so used to this now, that he didn’t even try to get up at all. Great!

We see small children, a cat, and someone on a skateboard who was being pulled by his pit bull. *Gulp!* Napoleon has a thing about this last scenario and usually ends up lunging, barking, and whining, trying to get to the person on the skateboard.  This time, he was anxious, lip flicking, and the hair on his hackles raised up, but he was still in a Stay position. Improvement, but we still have to work to do around this situation. He did wonderful around all other distractions.

Now, to the park. I took off the leash, let him relieve himself, and sniff around a bit, and then got his attention back to me. We practiced getting on the play equipment, and having him in a Stay while I ran around, and children were playing all around him. Some kids even played with him – all the while, he was in a stay. Good boy! I called him down, and he came right to me, sat in front of me, and then I put him back in a heel position. We walked around, and I taught him how to go down the slides. He was too big, so he ended up just jumping down the whole thing, silly boy!

Now, on the way back, we ran into more kids, cars, scooters, another off-leash dog, and a cat. He was awesome, and off-leash the entire time. I put him in a stay, and walked about a block down the street, while a dog across the street (off leash) was barking at him. He stayed perfectly. Eventually, we made it back home, and his reward – dinner and then time to rest.

I wanted to count out successes today:

-Great stays
-Successful polite leash-walking
-Successful  off-leash heeling
-Never strayed from me the whole time he was off leash
-Wonderful distraction and impulse work
-Calm demeanor for almost the entire training session (except for the skateboard)

I can’t wait to see how he does on our next training session when we go out again for training! So proud of all the work he’s put in. He still has his moments, but overall, he is making progress, and it’s been mostly uphill.  What training have you done with your dog lately?

Busy but Rewarding Week!

 

packwalk

Sorry that  I haven’t posted in a while. I have had double trainings after my day job every single day this week-good thing I’m still ‘elevated’. Business is booming! And I have a pack walk planned tonight that I am very excited about. It looks to be a good turnout, so we’ll see how many people show. I’m expecting about 20 dogs . It’s a perfect size for a pack walk!

Anyway, what happened since I posted last…? Ah yes!

Napoleon is on a new ‘boot camp’ schedule, and he’s making progress already. It’s a course between 6 -10 weeks, and I expect we will learn a lot! We are following the training protocol to the letter, and he has shown remarkable improvements already. Normally, when you let him out the kennel, he gets really excited and jumps around, and pants, and sometimes even barks/whines. Not anymore! Only 1 week of ‘calm’ training within the kennel, he is showing major results.

-No whining/barking
-Better behavior on walks and when playing with me
-Calmer demeanor when he is out of the kennel
-Responding very well to being the crate for so long.

Now, let me make a note here. Napoleon is a good dog – he has very minor issues (if you can even call them issues). But as an aspiring trainer, I want my dog to reflect the training I do. Immediately, when I tell people I am a trainer, they look at Napoleon to see how he is behaving. Most of the time, he is wonderful. However, when he gets adrenalized, he makes mistakes and bad decisions. This is why we are doing more advanced training through obedience. He is attentive to me about 90% of the time in the house/back yard/front yard, but that percentage drops dramatically when he gets adrenalized. It’s probably at about 40%. So, again – this is why we are doing a ‘doggie boot camp’!

Just in the introduction to the training course, I have learned so much! In the beginning, the trainer went over a lot of nutrition, tips, crate training, etc. Those were things I knew, but I’m always open to listening, as I could pick up something I didn’t know before. And I did! Tripe for dogs! I haven’t ever given my dogs tripe, but it is very good for them, along with fish oil and raw eggs. I knew about those 2, though.

Anyway, we started getting into the ‘meat’ of the first class, and we are doing a few things I recommend to clients’ already, but haven’t used on my own dog. I was a little blind to a lot of issues, and I have learned so much within the last 8 months about him. I have worked with him more and more, and I see results. I am so impressed with this particular trainer, that I really want to take some of her other courses. Too bad I’m not made of money..or time!

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Now, I’m following another trainer, named Fernando Camacho. His website is here. He is a dog trainer in New Jersey who has a free blog. I have been listening to his podcasts, and he is full of great information! Again, since I have been studying for a while, I knew some of what he was talking about already, but I always listen intently because I don’t want to miss something that could give me a new tool on my belt. He has wonderful links to sites to help you with training, and you don’t even have to be a trainer! He was the one who gave me the idea to do the pack walk, and just go for it! I’m so happy I listened, and I’m so excited to see the results of all my planning this week. Eventually, it won’t be so difficult/time consuming to do everything, but this is the first one I have done.

Anyway, wanted to share, and wanted to wish everyone a good weekend! Oh!! I don’t have time to post about it right now, but I want to update you on Ryder again.

Why do I want to be a dog trainer?

I get this question asked a lot. ‘How/why did you get into dog training?’ Well, it was because of a dog, of course.

I have always loved animals, and especially dogs… and puppies! But within the last few years, I realized I haven’t been entirely happy with my life. Why? I make good money, I have a great husband, and our lifestyle is awesome. We have a house, and I’m living the American Dream. Well, almost. I wasn’t doing what I love.

Dane

Not Albert, but this dog kind of looks like him.

This realization hit me when I was taking Napoleon in for his post-surgery checkup after he was diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer last year. I was a client of the Banfield hospital, located within Petsmart. On that very day, a local rescue called Lost Paws had their adoption day within Petsmart. They brought with them an emaciated, timid black Great Dane. His name was Albert.

I’m already partial to Danes, but for some reason, this one … spoke to me. He looked at me with his sad eyes, and they said, ‘help me. Please. Help me.’. I sat with him, and talked to him, and completely fell in love with this dog. His spirit was broken, his body was a wreck. He had been left outside to fend for himself, so he had sores on his body from the pavement. He was an intact 3 year old male with little to no training. However, he had a very calm demeanor, and seemed to be fearful of a lot of things: cats, people, other dogs, cars, the leash, kids, etc. I was in love with him. We connected immediately, and I told the person I needed to talk to my husband.

I could socialize this dog. I could let him have a wonderful life with us. I could clean him up and tell him that it’s ok to be scared sometimes, but with me – he would have nothing to be scared about. I would train him, and socialize him, and help him, and show him love. He could be happy and he would do well with us.

I told my husband about him, already knowing that he might not be ok with this. He asked me, ’How do you plan to get him home?’. I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. He was a Dane, and I had a small car. . . with my other large dog. He asked me if he was crate-trained. I wasn’t sure. Potty trained? Again, I wasn’t sure. Any training at all? Probably not. Seems the cards were against me, since my husband and I both worked during the day.

undeweight dane

Again, not Albert, but he was this underweight

I cried, and fought, and tried to get my way for Albert. I don’t mind having an untrained dog, especially with the temperament Albert had. However, I understand where my husband was coming from. We didn’t have the time to train him. To socialize him and give him the time this boy needed to get better. It wasn’t fair. I wanted to help so badly.

During this time, I realized this is where I belonged. Helping animals, saving them, and getting them into better positions. I looked into being a vet technician, helping shelters and rescues, and being a dog trainer.

At first, I wanted to get into the medical field as a veterinarian. That was my dream as a kid. But when I realized you had to go to school for 12 years, and then you spend ½ your income on liability insurance, and malpractice insurance, and then you have to open up your own practice… it just seemed daunting. So, again, I’m faced with this decision.

I did research to become a veterinary technician and I was fascinated. I looked into a school very close by…and realized the cost for an Associates degree in Veterinary Technology was as much as my Bachelor’s Degree was… I’m still paying those off. This became less of a possibility. Though, I didn’t lose hope, and I was determined.

I applied for about a hundred scholarships. Then, I did more research into other fields and possibilities in the animal industry and realized what I really want to do. Train and rehabilitate difficult dogs. I am interested in rehabilitation training for dogs who have been best, unsocialized, attacked, and just needed help. I want to also do therapy training, guard training, aggression training and help in an animal rescue. I’m still interested in the medical side of things as well, but the deeper I get into the training world, the more I love it.

Yes, I have been overwhelmed at times, but it’s not because of the task of training a difficult dog (which I’ll write about later), it’s because I am working so many hours a week, and it feels like it will never end. It feels like sometimes, I’m not making enough of a difference and that even though I’m already working 60+ hours a week, I’m not doing enough.

This is the reason why I have registered for more classes. I feel like I can do more. I can learn more, I can participate more. The more I do, the more I am valued. Though, I know this isn’t really true, but it’s the way I feel. The more classes I take, the more educated I can become, the more valued I am in the dog industry.

I want to be great. I will be great. I am just at the tip of the iceberg though. And I’m ok with that. I have a lot to learn, but I am surrounded by a great support group, and have some awesome trainers in my area who will help me get there. The hardest point for me is that I am progressing so slowly (in my opinion). I want to just learn and study and practice all day, every day. But I have a job. I have a career, and I have responsibilities. I cannot abandon them.

So, I am going as quickly as time will allow without jeopardizing my current position, or my family life. It is difficult, but I will eventually get there. I just have to keep telling myself there is light at the end of the tunnel. I will do this full time… eventually. And I will be great… eventually. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I think I am on the right path.

Pet Food Stamps

foodstampsI read this (http://wildewmn.wordpress.com/2009/09/) blog post from Nicole Wilde(http://wildewmn.wordpress.com) , and as much as this is an awesome development for Florida, I’m concerned it will be abused. Just like the welfare system is already abused so much.

Then, I hear about these ‘pet food stamps’ they recently added into the Food Stamp program. I think the theory is great, and the ‘heart’ is there, but is this a good thing? Government funded programs seem to … fail. For more than one reason! Where is the money coming from? The general public, of course.

Again, the theory is awesome. Shelters and rescues are full, and there are still unwanted, homeless pets coming in every day. The theory is that people can’t afford their animals anymore, so food stamps will help. For some, yes. But that’s not the main reason. Training, behavioral concerns, lack of responsibility, lack of education, and people who just don’t want their animals anymore are just a few of the reasons why people give them up. Money is a very small portion of why so many pets are given up or dumped.puppy

In my honest opinion, if you can’t take of yourself (meaning you, yourself are on welfare, or are having trouble paying bills, etc), is it really a good idea to have animals? However, I understand if you weren’t always in that situation, and hard times hit. It’s happens, and this program will help you with that. However, if you are already struggling and you have already been on the welfare program, adopting an animal is not in the best interest for you, or your new furry friend.

The Pet Food Stamps program, due to the generosity of contributors and patrons, are able to eliminate that heart-wrenching decision by making sure these pet owners are given free monthly home delivery of all necessary food supplies to maintain the health and vitality of their pets.

With the continued growth of the Pet Food Stamps program, it is expected in the 4th quarter 2013 to expand into offering free or heavily discounted veterinary care for all qualified program beneficiaries as part of the Pet Food Stamps program.
Source: https://petfoodstamps.org/

Free…. Deliver of pet food monthly… and heavily discounted veterinary care. Again… I think pets are privilege, not a right. Some people don’t deserve to have animals. However, low income families already have a struggle. Maybe, instead of adopting a cat or dog, choose a fish, or a rat. Something that’s a little less expensive per month to take care of. I’m not saying that low income families can’t have pets, I’m just saying live within your means.

What do you think?

The Rules about Leadership, In my Opinion

I wanted to write an article about leadership because this seems to be a highly controversial topic in the dog training world. Some trainers say things like “Don’t let your animals on the furniture ever”, ”Make sure to make your dog watch you eat dinner first. They only get fed after you.” “… walk through doorways first.”,”You need to establish you are the dominant one, and you are alpha.” Do I follow these rules with my clients? Sometimes. Do I follow them at home? Sometimes. But isn’t consistency the key? Yes.

Now, I know what you are thinking. She just said consistency was the key, but she ‘sometimes’ follows these rules?

GD

Here’s the thing: I think leadership is important in any house with a dog.  However, how strict the leadership must be is up to the family, the dynamics and scheduling of the family, and the dog. Some of the scheduling and strict leadership programs out there aren’t feasible for some families. I want the client to want to practice everything we talked about. I don’t want it to be a challenge, and have it be work. In the end, if they aren’t having fun practicing everything with their dog, they won’t do it.

Also the level of how strict the leadership must be, depends on the dog. If the dog already respects humans’ and their boundaries, then the dog is already making the decision to let the human be leader. Which is exactly what we want.

If the dog in question has many behavioral problems, and/or has aggression, a pushy attitude, or never had any socialization, then a strict leadership structure needs to be put in place to set the dog up to succeed. This is my approach. With pushy dogs, there need to be boundaries the dog can never cross. At least until it is trustworthy enough to not push those boundaries anymore.

So, when do these ‘strict’ rules apply, and when can you be lax with leadership with your dog? This is a tricky question. Think of a child. A child who constantly gets in trouble needs more strict leadership. Eventually, when that child starts to make better decisions, he has earned more freedom. Then, somewhere down the line, he makes another bad decision. So, he loses some of that freedom. If he keeps making bad decisions, more and more structure gets put into place. However, if that child makes good decisions, he is rewarded by having the opportunity to make his own choices and either reap the benefits, or face the consequences.

PetConvincerThink about when you learned how to make your own decisions. You made a bad one, and paid for it in some way or another. You made a good one, and realized it’s much easier to make the right choice, than constantly paying for the consequences. And everyone learns at their own pace. Dogs learn in the same manner. They need to learn if they always jump up on the counters, they will get the Pet Convincer used on them. (This is the tool I have handy and use often). Eventually, you will learn to watch out for their signals, and catch them before it happens. Then, because they haven’t self-rewarded in a while, they will forget what that feels like and won’t want to do the undesirable action anymore. There’s no ‘fun’ in it anymore.

So, I hope that makes sense. Basically, just like a parent, you set the rules, and then give the child an opportunity to make the right decision. How strict you need to be with your leadership depends on the dog, and the behavior you want to correct.

Questions, comments? This is in a nutshell, by the way.