The Pack Mentality/Family Philosophy
As humans, we often see our dogs as members of our family, like our children. So when our children demonstrate fear, anxiety, or boredom, we often try to address those behaviors using the same techniques that we would with a child.
What we don't realize is that dogs are not mentally capable of understanding many of our human communication techniques; we often percieve that they have emotions that they are incapable of experiencing. A primary example is my very first dog, Gunner.
Gunner used to be terrified of the garbage truck--the noise was loud and scary. When it would come by he would hide under the bed; if we were outside, he would either crumple to the ground and shake in fear, or bolt back to the front door. I tried to build his confidence, but simply didn't know how. One day I heard the garbage truck coming while we were outside and noticed Gunner huddling and shaking on the ground, frozen in fear. I did what my instincts told me, by trying to comfort him as a mother would comfort her child. I got down to his level, wrapped my arms around him, and talked to him in a soft voice telling him that it was okay. To my surprise, his fear didn't become any less pronounced--if anything it got worse.
As the alpha of Gunner's pack (his parent), huddling in a submissive position over him and talking in a very soft voice, unintentionally told him that the garbage truck was really scary and that he should be afriad of it. He took this to say that I was also fearful, that I was submitting to the garbage truck, and that his behavior--shaking and hiding--was appropriate because I had reinforced it. It wasn't until about a year later, when I began to learn the pack mentality and other training concepts, that I understood I had unententionally created even more fear for Gunner with my behavior.
By teaching my customers the pack/family mentality, how to be the alpha/parent, and how to communicate effectively with their dogs through obedience, we can quickly and easily overcome fearful, overly submissive, overly dominant behaviors.
The solution to the problem is often simple, it only requires making minor changes to our voice and body language, and how we respond to stimuli to communicate to our dogs how they should feel about the situation and respond to it.
One of the greatest benefits of training that you will receive through my program is the ability to effectively communicate with your dog. Not just to produce a dog that comes when called, but a dog that trusts you, is confident, responsive, and happy!
The Working Mind
Genetic and archeological evidence show that humans first domesticated the grey wolf around 15,000 years ago. From there, humans began to breed dogs for specific purposes--protection, hunting, herding, etc. For thousands of years humans bred dogs to work for them, to produce a desired behavior. Dogs that were not eager to please were simply not bred again.
So now, 15,000 years later, whether you have a Lab, a German Shepherd, a Pointer, an Austrailian Shepherd, a Mastiff, or a mix, your dog has been bred with a natural desire to want to work for you to produce a behavior that pleases you and allows your dog to be fulfilled and be your best friend.
The majority of the behaviors I am asked to address in training stem from boredom--whether that is barking, digging, destructive chewing, jumping, mouthing, or pulling on the leash. Having the run of the backyard and going on an occasional walk just isn't enough for most dogs to stay happy, fulfilled, and to drain their mental energy. That's where I come in.
During training I get to know your individual dog. My goal is to tap into the dog and find out what makes it tick. I use a combination of basic and advanced obedience to teach your dog how to produce a desired behavior. The first half of this obediene training is done entirely with a leash, body language, and vocal communication. This reduces stress for your dog as it learns to trust me quickly and naturally.
Upon completion of training, I help you to plan out a daily excercise routine to combine basic obedience, advanced obedience, retrieving and other mental energy-draining techniques to be used around the same time every day. Your dog can count on having the opportunity to work for you and please you. This will ensure calm behavior in the house for the rest of the day.
Leash pulling--an unwanted behavior and often a symptom of boredom.
We could cut your dog loose and let him run 50 laps around a football field, take him home and notice that he is ready to do it all over again within 30 minutes. Or we could challenge her mentally and physically using basic and advanced obedience for about 20 minutes and notice that she calms down at home for the rest of the evening. This is the working mind technique.
At Legend, once you have had a dog trained with me, you are welcome to come out and work with me. I also offer, for the life of the dog, free telephone and email consulations. When you board your trained dog with me, I can refresh its training and keep it stimulated and happy while you are away. This boarding also produces ideal behavior at home because it ensures that the commands, corrections, and expectations are consistent at home or away.
This is what I mean by training as an insurance policy to ensure good behavior for the life of your dog--I am here for you! This positive consistency ensures good behavior and guarantees your ability to address any new behaviors or questions that pop up after training.