Thursday, November 29, 2012

You don't know what you don't know

Never was there a decision to get a dog that was more debated than in our house.  As discussed in THIS post we have a puppy called Spanner.  In many respects things have been going well.  He sleeps well, no accidents inside, nothing major chewed....etc..... we put some of the behaviour we did see down to puppyhood.

We were proud that he "sits", "downs" and "leaves it" and is very invested in food as a reward.  He walks (after the first 6 weeks of refusing to move his butt off the sidewalk) but now he pulls and I am sure my shoulder joints are going to wear out.

He does well at school and with Allan but the rest of us are struggling.

But what was supposed to be a happy addition to our family was more work and more confrontation that any of us were enjoying.

We asked friends for suggestions and got some great ones.  I contacted his breeder with whom we have maintained a lovely relationship.  Her dogs were so incredibly well trained and she put us in touch with their trainer.

Scott came to our home last night.   A big, friendly, giant of a man.

He started with a long conversation with us before he saw Spanner.  We were almost immediately feeling information overload but he said so many things that just made so much sense.

He totally De-romanticised the whole dog/human relationship which I think was helpful for the kids especially.  Too many Disney movies, too much smother love from us.

And then he met Spanner.  

Who jumped on him. 

And then the "magic" began.  Our very own "dog whisperer" in action.

He talked in a calm quiet voice and used a clicker and treats to modify Spanners behaviour in under 15 minutes.  We all stood in awe as he repeated commands in a calm voice and reinforced the appropriate behaviour and ignored the inappropriate behaviour until Spanner just stopped doing it.

Over the next 90 minutes Spanner did things he has never done (like heel off leash and lie quietly in a "wait" for over 40 minutes) and we soaked in as much info as we could and asked dozens of questions and took furious notes.

Scott left us with tools (clickers and chains and retriever toys) and treats (rollover) and information.......and his email......and an invitation to his class in Vancouver so we can practice what he taught us.
The clicker and the website

We were a little overwhelmed when he left (I will be honest I wanted him to move in with us) but we had hope that we can have the well behaved, calm and confident dog we want...... David was beaming from ear to ear .....

This morning it was a whole new world for us and for Spanner who sat on his bed in the kitchen all morning as we bustled around him.  We clicked, we jangled the chain a couple times but we have a strategy, a plan and some new skills to try.

P H E W.

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