When I first got my little PWD, he was all of 8 weeks old. I had never, ever had a dog before so I was really clueless as to how to raise him. I'd see people walking down the street, being dragged by their dogs..and I'd think, "Wow, that's how I'll happily walk my dog!!" Like I said, I had no clue.
Whenever my little guy would so something I didn't like, such as pee on the carpet, or chew on the coffee table, I'd yell "no" to him. I figured that if the "no" word worked when hubby and I were raising our son, then only naturally the "no" word would work on the dog!! Whenever the doggy would tear across the house with a slipper in his mouth, I'd yell "drop it" to him....in fact, every time I'd yell anything at all...it would only make the puppy more excited!!
At that point, I started watching Cesar Milan episodes. I began to notice that Cesar never actually spoke to the dogs..he would just use his body or the leash to correct unwanted behaviour. Cesar would talk up a storm to the owners..but his communication with the dogs was always silent. I decided I was going to try that! Hey, if it worked for Cesar, it would work for me. However, things on TV always have a way of working out way more quickly than they do in real life. The first time I decided to go out with my new "silent" attitude, my puppy saw a squirrel across the street. In the blink of an eye, he was at the end of his leash..making choking noises..never letting the fact that he couldn't breath stop him..while all the while I was yelling at him to stop..or sit..or stay..or heel..whatever words I could think of.
The leash would always get so taut on our walks, instead of snapping the dog out of his "squirrel" zone, I would just pull and yank him. All the while, not only using words...but using them very loudly!
At 3 months old, we enrolled our doggy in a puppy class. The first thing I noticed was that the only time the trainer actually spoke to the dogs was to give them praise. She never used her voice for any corrections. Somehow, that just never sank in with me. Of course I would always praise him when praise was merited, but I would continue to use words for everything else. A year went by and I was still yelling at my dog to stop doing things he wasn't supposed to do. My goal, at his point was no longer about the furniture..I figured I could always get new cushions for the couch. Nope, my goal was to keep the little nutball alive. For over a year, I tried to keep him from running out on the street in the path of oncoming buses. I would never let go of the leash so I could yank him back onto the sidewalk before any serious harm was done..but his behaviour was borderline suicidal!!
Both my hubby and my son had figured out that our doggy didn't speak English. They'd just magically snap their fingers and doggy would do whatever they wanted. I guess I wasn't as quick as them..until one day, I was walking the dog, alone, and lost in my thoughts. At one point (and I swear it only took a split second), doggy was pulling so hard on his leash..he almost fell from an overpass 20 feet from the ground. I felt myself come out of my body..I was looking at myself...holding the leash taut..yelling at the little guy whose tail was wagging with delight at all the excitement!
At that moment, I took it upon myself to re-register for another doggy class. I finally realized that doggy would never change..it would be up to me to change...to be able to communicate in a canine fashion. Well, week 6 into the course and our walks are fantastic. Doggy no longer has a death wish as he walks dutifully by my side. I've learned to recognize the signs and I'm able to snap him out of the "zone" before he tries to run across the street. Once I finally "got" that my dog does not speak English, we've never communicated so well with each other.
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