|Dog Training with Brenda
|My love affair with dogs began before I could walk. Our family dog, at that time, was
a Boston Terrier named Butch that my father had trained to do several tricks. My
folks loved telling the story of how I would be standing in my crib and Butchie would
perform his tricks over and over for me. They would hear me laughing, and sure
enough when they checked, Butchie would be doing his one dog show for me.
I grew up watching TV shows and movies that were about dogs. From Lassie and Rin
Tin Tin to Big Red and Old Yeller, I had to see them all! I lived across the street from
the library and I think I must have read every dog book that was in the building, some
more than once. I wanted a greyhound when I read Desert Dog. I wanted a wire
haired terrier when I read Bristle Face. I know that before I was ten, I had checked
out the AKC Complete Dog Book over and over until I had the AKC breeds (of that
time) memorized. People often ask me about how I got started training dogs. I totally
lay that responsibility on my neighbor Dottie's cousin.
When I was eight, Dottie's cousin (I don't remember her name) came to visit Dottie
for a week and brought her Sheltie. She and her Lassie look-alike competed in
obedience trials. They did a demo of heel, sit, etc. Later I went over to pet him and
when I thought no one was looking, I surreptitiously gave the heel command and
started off with the dog heeling beside me and doing the automatic sit when I stopped.
I was thrilled but it didn't last long. " Cousin" came over and very nicely told me that
no one other than she was suppose to give her dog commands. Well, the next day I
went to the library and checked out my first book on dog training, took it home and
trained my little mixed breed! That was well over 30 years ago.
During these past 30+ years, I have studied various training methods, attended
seminars, including some given by Dr. Michael W. Fox, a noted animal behavior
expert and former Director of the Institute for the Study of Animal Problems of The
Humane Society of the U.S. in Washington, D.C., and Gary Wilkes, an internationally
acclaimed behaviorist and trainer. Gary is also an author, a columnist and lecturer
with more than 25 years of experience working with dogs, including eight years in
shelter work. Some of his clients are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.
Government Training Center for Working Dogs, Temple University Department of
Psychology Association for Behavior Analysis, Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, and
the Phoenix Zoo. Gary serves as a Director Emeritus of the Arizona Humane Society
and as a National Director of the world's largest service dog training facility, Paws
With A Cause. I've taken classes through the University of Arizona and have
worked with hundreds of dogs, including service dogs for the disabled and hearing ear
dogs. I also regularly compete in AKC obedience trials with my own dogs who have
also won Best Pet Trick in competitions sponsored by Humane Societies throughout
the United States. In the 2002 People and their Amazing Animals competition
sponsored by Purina Mills in Owasso, my boxer, Blaze, won first place in the Talent
Category of the Pet Talent Show.
But by far my greatest triumphs come from helping dogs with uncontrollable
behaviors. Most of these dogs are on their third or fourth owner, destined to end their
lives at pounds and humane societies where the majority are euthanized. Thousands
more are simply dumped. Why? Because of behavior problems that could have been
modified with training. This is why I keep doing what I do. So the next time you hear
someone talking about how they 're going to have to get rid of their dog because of
it's behavior, tell them "Don't Toss the Dog, Train It". Save a life!