Friday, March 3, 2017

Training is a Wonderful Thing

Daisy tolerating my granddaughter, lol

If this is your first time to my visit my blog, I had promised a follow up on Daisy's training:  

My vet had recommended a local trainer when I talked to her about my concerns with Daisy's aggression. I immediately went to the trainer's website ( and the questions he posed on his homepage ~embarassed? worried about injury? frustrated? irritated? overwhelmed? upset? afraid?~ described my situation perfectly. 

To say I am pleased with Daisy's training results at this point is definitely an understatement. I can't believe the difference in her behavior. 
Bella & Daisy sharing the "Place"

Our lesson this week was at Home Depot. I was pretty apprehensive about taking Daisy to a place where she would be in close proximity to people and possibly other dogs. The trainer brought his dog too. As you can see from the trainer's link below, she was very relaxed in the down command at the entrance watching people come and go.

We purposely set her up in many different situations that normally would have brought an embarrassing meltdown, but instead she looked to me for calm and guidance. We walked by people pushing carts, kids, loud equipment and men in bright orange vests, lol. 

I worked really hard to stay calm and confident so as to convey to her I was in charge and could handle anything without her help. We had one incident where someone brought in their HUGE unruly dog that had every intention of eating Daisy. (I'm not sure why you would bring a large aggressive dog to Home Depot?) The trainer said Daisy definitely had every right to feel threatened. I was able to calm her with a correction so she could see I wasn't going to let anything happen. I can't believe how much my attitude and demeanor influences hers. 

I am now training Abby too with the methods I am learning.
Although learning obedience commands was an important part of her training (sit, down, place, come, stay, heel, nope), what I considered the most essential was the modification of Daisy's frame of mind. Teaching her self control through the obedience commands helped her in situations where she would come unhinged. 

Another important aspect of the training was teaching me how to communicate clearly, calmly and effectively with Daisy. We had a good relationship before the training, but the mutual respect we now have for each other has brought us to a whole new level. At bedtime, the first thing she does when she comes to bed is snuggle up to my neck and cuddle for a few minutes. She looks to me now anytime she is unsure of how to react. I love this!  When one of the other dogs go to bark at a squirrel out the front window, she looks at me like, "Mom, I'm pretty sure you don't want me to do that!"

One thing that I struggled with at first was not treating my dogs as my children (humanizing them). I love my dogs with a passion but what I didn't realize is they are uncomfortable and confused when we expect them to behave like a little four legged person. I respect their species and try to communicate more clearly in their language. By this I mean using fewer and consistent words and body language to convey my expectations. When I make a rule, such as no jumping, I have to expect the same behavior at all times, no exceptions.

Just hanging out with my sis

I have actually ordered her a pink (of course) vest that I plan to use when we are in public that says "Please Give Me Space". Being the cute, fluffy and little dog she is, everyone assumes she wants to be petted. This vest will at least stop those who quickly move in before I can say No! It is my job to be sure people/dogs do not invade her comfort zone.

I plan to work with each of my dogs to teach them everything Daisy has learned. I have already started working with Abby. It is so nice to put them in their "place" when people visit. It doesn't look like a stampede anymore. I look forward to the day when I can say "place" and all five scramble for their spot.

I am so so so happy that I had the opportunity to learn how to help Daisy become a less reactive, calmer and happier dog. Her training will be a life long pursuit, but she is so worth it. I know that she will never be the cute and friendly dog that loves everybody, but at least I am now confident of how she will react in most situations and know how to handle it correctly. 

If you have any specific questions about her training, please don't hesitate to ask!

My granddaughter loves her some Bella!

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