Feel secure with dogs, learn Dog Handling Skills
In 1998, Jonathan and I adopted our first dog, Oskar. He was a 60 lb. boxer. I was clueless about caring for a dog. My entire pet experience had been with gerbils, hamsters and a cat that was mostly cared for by my daughter, Cheryl.
We had started teaching canine massage at the PetMassage School the year before. It was time to leave our apartment, buy a house and support Jonathan’s dream of owning a dog. A boxer.
Oskar, the boxer who Jonathan fell for at the International Kennel Club dog show in Chicago, was a former show dog. He was a beautiful boy who refused to cooperate in the ring. He had lots of baggage from being mishandled by assertive trainers and handlers.
From the beginning of Oskar’s transition from show dog to a house-pet and demo dog for PetMassage, he demonstrated being the one in charge. When he did not get his way, he’d bark and race around leaving a trail of pee (on the expensive Oriental carpets) as he moved through the rooms in our home or at our PetMassage school.
My experience with Oskar was frustrating. With his barking at me, jumping on me, I would often be pushed or pulled down, falling, leaving scratches and bruises on my body. I did not feel safe. I had no concept of leadership skills with dogs. I was placing myself in danger. I realized I needed to improve the relationship, for me to feel empowered and safe.
While we were having challenges with Oskar, a student named Monica attended our PetMassage Foundation Level Program. Monica understands dogs. She understands how to speak to them in their own language of Dog. The skills she taught us enabled us to be calm, assertive leaders with Oskar. “Someone has to be the leader,” she reminded us, “and if it isn’t you, Oskar will take on the responsibility.” After training us for several hours, we got it. Oskar began to truly honor us.
We realized that many women in our workshops were ceding control to the dogs. They learned the PetMassage skills but couldn’t practice them because the dogs they worked on were non-compliant. This was the element to our training that had been missing. We quickly decided to hire Monica to her teach dog handling skills for our Foundation Level workshops.
It’s not dog training. These are the dog handling skills Practitioners use during their 1/2 – 1 hour sessions. After learning detailed skills from Monica our students are more confident with the dogs in the workshop and with all dogs, even-especially their own.
Perhaps your dog handling skills need fine-tuning. Perhaps you have a problem child that is not listening to you. Perhaps in the midst of your affection you’ve relinquished your role as leader.