If you haven’t seen it it’s hard to believe!
One of the things I see often is the surprise from owners when they see their dog do something they’ve wanted them to do or have wanted them not to do…forever…and it actually happens.
While I was in New Orleans we had a four-session package with a big ole bloodhound named Warren. Warren had become a disaster on walks, reacting to dogs and other objects and pulling his owners (with his 100+ pound body) all over the place in a dangerous fashion. He also had the habit of some seriously selective hearing when he was off-leash around dogs. In this situation, Warren would do whatever Warren wanted to do.
So I got to work with Mr Warren. I introduced him to e-collar heel, and in no time we had a really nice, relaxing walk going on. He would even walk by dogs and not care at all. He simply retired the reactivity game. :) Then I worked on e-collar sit and recall. Once again, with a little elbow grease and some patience I had Mr Warren recalling to me and sitting nicely once there.
This was all done in the first two sessions – and in these sessions I worked without the owners. I wanted to get Warren in shipshape before I got the owners involved. So all the progress we had created they hadn’t seen yet.
So at the final two sessions it was go time. The owners got see what Warren was actually capable of. He walked like a dream, ignored snotty dogs, and was so much more relaxed and comfortable in general. And then we went to the little park area to work on recall.
Now if you’ve ever had a dog that blows you off as soon as he or she is off-leash, you know how stressful and frightening it can be. And when you call your dog – that same dog that would normally ignore and run the other way – and he comes running right to you, boy is that something to celebrate! That was Warren and his mom. She was all smiles as she would call him and he would turn around sharply and come bounding back to her. After some practice she was even able to call him off of other dogs present. Something that would have never happened, even just a few days ago.
So it was a good reminder for me. I train lots of dogs to recall and do (or not do) lots of stuff they normally wouldn’t. It can be easy to take it for granted. But it was such a great reminder for me the magic of training. And that when an owner can finally do activities with their dog that they’ve always wanted, or simply enjoy their dog when it used to be a stress fest, it’s pretty darn awesome.
I know Warren’s owners knew we did good work, but I’m not sure they actually believed it would work for their guy until they actually saw it with their own eyes. I know when I look back to my guys, 12 years or so ago, when they were terrors off-leash, when they first started coming when called it was like a miracle! Haha. It’s a good miracle to remember. :)