Monday, September 21, 2009

An Experiment with An Expensive Dog Trainer

After taking Penny through the beginners training (twice) at Petsmart, I have decided to go a different, more expensive route for continued training. Nickel has some dog aggression issues and it is too much of a liability for me to take him into group training (this is something I decided for the safety of my dogs as well as other dogs). While it is considerably more expensive, I will be able to receive one-on-one training that will teach me how to handle and train my dogs.

I have chosen to go with a local and expensive company for training. It is a local company that provides group, one-on-one and boarded training options. I chose an 8 week training course which will work on some issues as well as basic obedience. I have been told that they are not about teaching "tricks" (sit, stay, lay down) as much as they are about teaching behaviour...more of a Cesar Milan style is what I picked up on.

We start on Saturday, and I will attempt to post regularly about the progress of my dogs, and ultimately if it was a fiscally responsible thing to do. There were cheaper options, but I think a more intensive method of training is required.

Both dogs will be in the same training at the same time. (One of the benefits of this over other methods) This will allow me to teach both of them correctly and not have them in different parts of training at different times, which would ultimately confuse me.

My Dogs:

Penny is a three year old beagle mix. I rescued her from a no-kill shelter in February 2009. She has gone through Petsmart’s beginner training twice, and is becoming a very good girl, but she seems to only want to listen when food is involved. The only background information I have is that she was found in someone’s backyard with her litter of puppies. By the time I found her all of her puppies had been adopted.

Nickel is a one year old cattle dog mix. I think he is Queensland Heeler and Border Collie, with some other breed mixed in since he is smaller than average. I rescued him from the County Shelter in May 2009, and he has no training that I know of. He was found as a stray. He walks well on a leash (until he sees another dog) which leads me to believe he belonged to someone before me.

I am hoping that this training will accomplish a few goals, mostly basic obedience and help with the following problems:

Penny's Issues:

Food Aggression - I have seen her run across the room growling to block to bowl from Nickel. This is obviously a big one for her.

Walking on a Leash - Even after the PetsMart training she still pulls on the leash. If she sees another dog, she tries everything to get to it. Not aggressive, just eager to make new friends, but there is no telling if the other dog is aggressive or friendly.

Nickel's Issues:

Dog on Dog Aggression - He lunges and tries to attack other dogs. He seems fine with Penny and my parents’ dogs, even my cat, but as soon as he sees another dog while on a walk, he growls, snaps, barks and pulls. Add Penny into the mix and I have two dogs pulling and barking at the same time, and Nickel will start nipping at Penny. Not Fun!

Nipping/Jumping - Nickel thinks everything is a game. He will jump all over you when you greet him, and when you scold him or push him off, he thinks its a game and comes back for more. He also likes to nip at hands, and lick hands or feet incessantly. He has no manners and thinks climbing on you is perfectly normal.

So....wish me luck, and I will try to post some of the more interesting points of training, while trying not to give away any 'secrets'. This will hopefully turn into a series on the pros and cons of more expensive and intensive dog training, as well as progress reports and thoughts on the training itself.

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