Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New installment: Dog days

Well today is the first installment of dog days. On Tuesdays, I’ll be talking dog training, dog behavior and body language, communication between dogs and their owners .. stuff like that.

And no, I’m no Dog Whisperer. I’m here to say basically what I’ve learned from our training classes and to talk about how it works in this “average” American family’s life. Real life training. Not “always happy endings” that you see on TV.

So some background is in order.

In the beginning of February of last year (2008), we made a long, long trip to Iowa to pick up our puppy. We got her from a decent breeder that we’d checked out. One thing to note, that we didn’t know then to be concerned about, was puppy manners. See puppies, like a lot of us, learn their manners from their mothers. Our puppy’s mother was taken from her too soon, in order to go be a rescue dog. That left a “hole” in our puppy’s education.

Anyway, we got our little girl, Storm. She’s a beautiful GSD (or German Shepherd Dog). She was/is precious to us and huge part of our family. After we got her home, as new and good owners, we bought her every toy under the sun, and promptly got so busy playing with her that we nearly forgot to train her, lol!

What prompted us to train her was our own lack of understanding in raising and being around dogs. Plus Storm’s hole in her education made her test us quite a bit. And we didn’t know what she needed or how best to respond. We don’t believe in hitting animals and certainly not ones as intelligent as dogs and CERTAINLY not a German Shepherd being one of the smartest breeds out there.

So we called around asking trainers for advice, comparing them against places like Petsmart. I’m a big research type of person, not liking to make snap decisions without all the information I can handle.

We ended up deciding firmly against Petsmart and found a local trainer instead that was very near the same price. Petsmart wasn’t a good fit for us because of how we saw the trainers treat the animals. We didn’t like their methods and the ones around here didn’t listen well to questions or seem to have time to care. Well folks when you ask me to commit 6-8 weeks of my time, coming to class and over $100, you need to make time for me to have questions AND don’t judge my dog as “dangerous” because of her breed. Sheesh.

Okay, more on this next week. We’ll talk more about us picking our trainer and what I just mentioned about breeds.

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