- Behavior Problems
- Get Help Here
August 19th, 2010
By Eric Letendre
Guy walks into the vet’s office with a cross eyed Rottweiler…
The vet picks up the rottweiler and looks into the dogs‘s eye. After looking into the dog’s eyes, the vet looks at the guy and says: “I’m going to have to put the dog down.”
Shocked, the man says: “Put my dog down? Just because his eyes are crossed? I can’t believe this. Why?”
The vet replies: “I have to put your dog down because he’s heavy.”
Okay, bad joke, but you can never accuse me of sending boring emails.
Whenever I am offering advice on dog training or any other topic, I always try to deliever it in an entertaining and fun way.
Sometimes I fall short but at least I always try to deliver. I was thinking about this yesterday when someone asked me about my book “The Amazing Dog Training Man.”
The person I was talking to told me that she had read volumes of dog training books and wanted to know what made my book different.
Like her, I have a huge library of books on dog training and behavior.
Some good, some bad, some real bad.
When I decided to sit down and write a book on dog training, I decided that I was going to deliver the information in an entertaining way.
I wanted the book to be packed with information but I did not want it to be like every other dog training book, so I came up with the idea to write the book in story form.
I came up with the idea to write a story about a guy that adopts a dog and everything goes wrong. He is at the point where he is about to bring the dog back to the shelter.
Instead, he finds a trainer that can help him and learns the secrets to dog behavior and training.
He discovers that the first step is to learn how to become a good dog owner by looking at the world through the eyes of his dog.
He learns that in order to have a good dog he has to become a good dog owner.
Anyway, over the next few days I am going to share some chapters from the book. Here is chapter one:
My First Dog…How It Almost Turned Into A Disaster
I felt confused, frustrated, and embarrasses to bring
my dog to an obedience class
I moved to Westport, MA about three years ago. I was living in Tolland, CT working for a large insurance company in Hartford when I got a transfer to Providence. I was lucky enough to find Westport, located about twenty miles south of Providence. Westport is a quaint, beautiful, little seaside town tucked right between New Bedford and Fall River.
When we moved out here, my wife and I agreed to get our daughter a dog once everything was settled. Three years had passed and my daughter had patiently waited for her dog. I have to admit, I was looking forward to getting a dog, but I was just a little concerned about my abilities. I had never had a dog and wanted to make sure that we had enough time to spend with him.
One Sunday afternoon my little family loaded into the car and drove off to the local shelter. When we arrived, the shelter employees showed us around. After spending about thirty minutes looking at dogs of all sizes and shapes my daughter decided on a unique mid sized dog of about thirty five pounds.
The shelter employee told us that the dog was a beagle/chow/shepherd mix. After spending a few minutes with the dog, my daughter had her heart set on him. We filled out the necessary paperwork, gave the shelter a donation, and we were on our way.
The ride home was exciting. My daughter was smiling from ear to ear and my wife even looked happy about the new addition. We spent most of Sunday walking with our new dog on the beach and trying to decide on a name for him. My daughter suggested every name that she had ever heard in a Disney movie.
She wanted to call him Simba, Mickey, Goofy, and on and on. My wife added that when she was a little girl, her dog’s name was Peanuts. Everyone seemed to like that name, so we agreed that our new dog would be Peanuts. Everything seemed so easy that first day, everyone was happy. As you will discover in the next few minutes, it didn’t stay that way. What started out as a happy beginning went quickly downhill.
The first signs of trouble cropped up that evening. We decided that we would let Peanuts sleep in the kitchen, but as soon as the lights went out, Peanuts started to howl and bark. We figured that he would stop after a few minutes, but no such luck. Peanuts went on for about forty five minutes until my wife and I couldn’t take it anymore.
We let him into our room where he quickly made himself at home on our bed. My wife said she thought she had heard somewhere that you were not supposed to let the dog on the bed. I told her that anything that kept him quiet was fine with me. Our daughter had school in the morning and we could not let him keep us up all night.
What happened over the next few weeks is a blur. I don’t know how to describe it. What started off so good was quickly becoming a nightmare. Peanuts was wrecking our lives. He was causing so much trouble that my wife and I were starting to argue with each other.
We quickly learned that Peanuts loved to steal anything off the counters or coffee table. He would steal tissues, pens, eye glass cases, the TV changer, anything that was left there. He also had a terrible habit of chewing everything that he could get his mouth around.
The corners of our tables and chairs were ruined, creating a lot of tension between my wife and me. Taking him for a walk was almost impossible. He would pull me in every direction and there was no way that my daughter would be able to handle him. I could not believe that a little thirty five pound dog could pull so hard. Our backyard had holes all over it, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Peanuts was not housebroken. He would go anytime and any place he chose.
The tough part was that he could be a great little pet at times. He was very lovable and my daughter was crazy about him. Before things got too out of control, I decided to call the shelter and ask for some advice. They must know how to handle these dogs.
When I called the shelter the people that I spoke to were very helpful and tried to give me as much information as they could. They told me that I should get a crate and use it; they also said that maybe a choke chain would help. After speaking to them, I headed right off to the local pet store to purchase the necessary equipment.
When I put the choke chain on Peanuts it did not seem to do very much good. When we walked, he pulled so hard on the choke chain that I could hear him struggling to breathe. The crate was an even bigger disaster. Whenever I tried to put him in the crate, he would fight and resist me.
Once I finally got him in it, he would not stop barking, howling, and scratching at the door. Everything we tried seemed to backfire on us. It was starting to feel hopeless.
But I did not want to give up.
I figured my next step would be to enroll Peanuts in an obedience class. Looking through the phone book, I found a dog training school that was not too far away. I called and signed up for a class that was starting in a few days.
The class didn’t exactly go as I thought it would. On the first day, the instructor rudely informed me that my dog was unruly and badly behaved. I didn’t need her to tell me that. After all, that’s why we had signed up for the class in the first place. After I had been told that my dog was not well-behaved, the instructor said that she was going to put a choke chain on my dog.
When I told her that we had already tried that, she informed that I was not using it correctly. The class started and needless to say, I was thoroughly embarrassed by the end of it. Peanuts was awful, he would not stop pulling and barking. I was yelled at by the instructor more than once to control my dog.
I didn’t understand what she thought I was doing. Of course I was trying to control my dog, that’s why I was there. But instead of giving me advice, I was berated in front of everyone. At the end of class I waited patiently so I could ask the instructor a few questions.
When she saw me waiting I got the feeling that I was facing the principal, just like when I was a kid. The look on her face was not pleasant. I quickly asked her about some behavior problems that I was experiencing. The instructor informed me that whenever Peanuts was doing something I didn’t like, I had to show him that I was the boss, or as she referred to it, the
“How do I do that,” I asked?
“It’s simple,” she replied. “Grab your dog by the scruff of the neck and shake him while loudly saying NO.” If that didn’t work she advised me to do what is called an “Alpha rollover”.
She decided to demonstrate on Peanuts. She grabbed him with both hands on either side of the neck. She lifted his front paws off the ground and flipped him onto his back. It happened so fast that the poor little guy didn’t know what hit him. As she was demonstrating she told me that this is what the alpha dog does to subordinates in the wild.
Then something strange happened. Peanuts began to fight her and tried biting her hands while she held him down. The more he fought the harder she fought back to keep him under control. The situation continued to escalate until Peanuts and the trainer were in what looked like mortal combat. The trainer finally let go, but not before getting bit. I was horrified as I stood there looking at what had just happened.
I was at a complete loss for words. I asked the trainer what she would like me to do. She said that Peanuts was highly dominant and dangerous. She then told me that I would have to come in for some private lessons; just Peanuts, the instructor, and me.
I left the training class feeling crushed. Peanuts did a lot of things that we did not like, but we never felt that he was dangerous or a threat. There was no way I would have a dangerous dog around my family. I thought the training class was the solution, but now, in just an hour’s time, I felt like things had gone from bad to worse.
A week later I showed up for the private lesson. The instructor told me that we needed to teach Peanuts who the boss was. She said we would accomplish this by using a prong collar. She showed me what it looked like and I was more than a little uncomfortable. It was like some kind of torture device. It was a steel collar with spikes coming out every few inches. She put the prong collar on Peanuts and I was apprehensive about what might happen next.
Peanuts was a mischievous dog that had definitely thrown a monkey wrench into my quiet life, but overall he was a good little guy. The instructor took the leash from me and commanded Peanuts to sit. Before I knew what was happening she had yanked on the leash and Peanuts yelped from the correction. When Peanuts still refused to sit, she yanked again. I could see that Peanuts was stressed.
He was starting to pant and his eyes were wide open. He had a scared and confused look on his face. When Peanuts continued to refuse to sit, she yanked on the leash a third time. Peanuts now started his revolt. He grabbed the leash with his mouth and started pulling back. This really made the instructor livid; she grabbed the leash with both hands and lifted Peanuts off the ground.
I could only watch in horror as Peanuts was just hanging there, and I knew that this could not be right. I immediately told her to put Peanuts down and give him back to me.
What happened next is still a blur. When Peanuts regained his footing he attempted to bite the instructor. She lifted him off the ground until he almost passed out. When she finally put him down, he was too disoriented to put up a fight. I quickly took Peanuts from her and made for the door.
As I was leaving the instructor told me that I had a dangerous and dominant dog. She added that I should have him put down. As I drove home I could not bear the thought of bringing him back to her for more training. At the same time, things needed to change. I could not put my family at risk. I didn’t know what to do. Di
I just drive right to the vet’s office, or continue to try and train him?
On the way home, I made a quick detour to the town beach. I thought maybe a walk would help and I could think things over. I took Peanuts out of the car and we started off toward the dunes. I had thought for sure that obedience school would be the answer to my problems. Instead, it seemed to only make matters worse. While walking, I noticed a women and her dog about a quarter of a mile down the beach.
As I watched, I could see that her dog was off leash, running in the water, chasing sticks that she was throwing. At one point, I even saw her dog do some commands before she released the stick. She gave her dog a command to lie down and the dog dove into the position.
Then she told the dog to sit and the dog popped up so fast I thought he was going to launch straight up at least three feet. I think she then told her dog to stay because when she threw the stick her dog didn’t budge. A few seconds later she made some kind of gesture and her dog raced off after the stick.
I watched in envy, wishing that I could let Peanuts run and play in the water like that. At one point her dog noticed Peanuts and started to run straight for him. Peanuts was only too happy to greet the other dog, but then the most amazing thing happened. The strange dog was within twenty feet of us when the women yelled out the dog’s name and commanded him to come.
I watched in awe as the dog came to a full stop, turned, and trotted back to his owner.
If only I had that kind of control over Peanuts, if he would just listen to me a little I know that things would get better. Maybe she was a dog trainer. Maybe she could show me how to control my dog like she does hers. Even a little help would be better than the disaster of a training class that I went through. I decided that I was going to approach her and ask for some help.
“Hello,” I called out, a little tentatively.
“Hi,” she responded, friendly enough it seemed.
“Can I ask you a few questions?” I was feeling more comfortable now.
“Sure you can,” she replied.
I then introduced Peanuts and myself. I told her how impressed I was with her dog. I added that I really thought it was incredible how she could let her dog off leash and call him back to her. When I asked if she trained dogs, she said no, she didn’t. She also added that her dog had been out of control as a puppy.
“But he’s so well behaved,” I said, amazed. How could an out of control puppy turn into such an obedient dog?
Then she told me about a man that she had met when her dog was just a few months old, and she added, he was an amazing dog trainer.
He showed her all the little known secrets of dog training. After just five lessons with this man she had all the information she needed to train her dog, and just a few weeks later she and her dog had a great relationship.
Excitedly, I asked if she could tell me how to contact this guy. She said that she had his card in her car. As we walked back towards her car I asked if she thought this guy could help me with my dog.
“His training is different,” she said. “The training program that he developed is something he calls The Reverse Dog Training Method.”
“Reverse dog training method,” I asked, a little confused.
“Yes,” she replied. “The success of any training is not dependent on the dog it’s really dependent on the owner. You’ll see once you start to work with him, he makes things very clear and easy to understand.”
“Can I ask you one more question,” still not completely sure I was getting it.
“Sure,” she said.
“Will this guy also help me with all the other problems that I am having? My dog is chewing, digging, peeing in the house, you name it and my dog is doing it.”
“Yes, absolutely. He has a unique way of showing dog owners how to deal with all those problems. He will show you what he likes to call the M.U.T.T. Method for dealing with behavior problems.”
When we arrived at her car she handed me his card. When I looked at it I was surprised. Here’s all the card said, his phone number was on the back:
I thanked her and started back for my car. As I walked I felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe this guy can help me. Maybe we will be able to keep Peanuts. At the same time, I felt confused. Reverse training method? Fix behavior problems using a mutt method? What did it all mean? Either way, I was going to call this guy as soon as I got home.
Stay tuned for chapter two…
…or get the whole story by clicking here: “The Amazing Dog Training Book”