Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The first class I ever attended was with Sherman a little over 3 years ago. Clearly he didn't need class...he already new how to sit, lay down, give paw, speak and walk nicely on a flexi leash. But we had just gotten Penny & she was a mess. So I thought I'd start out with my already obedient dog just to get myself into the groove.

Well...was I in for a rude awakening. By the end of the first class, I was ready to give Sherman away. He was a nightmare...trying to jump on the other dogs, completely ignoring me, forgetting he ever knew how to do a single thing I asked. I didn't even want to go back to the second class and for good reason...he was worse! As being cool, calm & collected are not my best traits, I was fortunate enough to have one of the trainers notice my frustration & pull me aside into a separate room. She took Sherman from me and worked w/ him a bit and then gave me the best training advice I've gotten to date.


Sherman, NO! Sherman, STOP IT! Sherman, COME HERE! Sherman SIT! Sherman NO! Sherman NO! Sherman NOOOOoooooo!!! I sounded like a broken record. And he could care less...he wasn't hearing me.

Stop yelling at your dog. If what you're doing is not working, change the situation to make him succeed. Stop telling him what is wrong and let him know what is right. Rocket science, huh? Well, to me it was. Because it WORKED! (Thank you, Jan McCune).

So what's my point? Well, for the first couple of months we had Lola, I did a lot of yelling at Sherman. Back to my old stupid ways. But in the recent month or so, I remembered that stellar advice and got back to what I know works. Stop yelling at your dog. I've been focusing more on what he's doing well and putting in more one on one time w/ him and I've really noticed a difference. Does that mean I don't ever yell at him? Hell, NO! But it's fewer & far between...when he really needs it.

Ironically, like tonight. His guarding is still an issue and all three dogs were on the bed w/ me. He had a chewie next to him...but Lola started sniffing him...not going for the bone, but just sniffing near him. Sherman laid into her, pinning her down and biting her face. She really yelped...probably more out of fear than pain, but his behavior is not acceptable. I made him get off the bed and ignored him for the next hour. We made up later and he's on probation for. But I will still keep encouraging the good behavior from him and I will make the effort to stop yelling at my dog.

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