There’s a Million Different Ways to do the Right Thing
by John Flores
Between my dogs and the fosters that have come through here in the past 2 and half years, there’s been easily 40 dogs that I’ve worked with. This doesn’t even include the dogs at the rescue that I’ve worked with while they were there. For every “issue” a dog has, there are a million different ways to deal with it. And while I don’t have kids, it seems that parenting is a lot like dog training. Everyone has their own way and if you’re not doing it their way, you way sucks.
In a few days, I will be taking my foster Fletcher out of town for 5 days to go train with, Cesar Millan, aka “The Dog Whisperer”. While his methods have been widely accepted, there are many others who see his ways as “outdated”. In fact, when I posted on my social media that I was going to training sessions with him I received many messages and emails saying how disappointed they were that I would take one of my fosters to a trainer like Cesar and how I was endangering Fletcher. While I’m sure everyone’s heart was in the right place, I also took it a little personal.
Now, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several different trainers. And every trainer I’ve worked with had different methods. Some were mirrored after Cesar’s training while some were on the complete opposite of the spectrum but most were somewhere in-between. The one thing they all had in common? They were ALL calm, assertive and consistent. And if you’ve ever watched even one episode of, The Dog Whisperer, you will hear Cesar say this at least 3 times in his show.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to have learned how to use a variety of training tools. I’ve learned the correct way to use the choke chain, the pinch (prong) collar, the gentle leader, and even the “e collar” aka the “shock collar”. And to be honest, they all work. It’s just a matter of knowing which tool you need. A friend of mine once told me, “A book can be a very powerful tool in teaching kids how to read. But if you beat them over the head with it, it can become a very dangerous weapon.” The same goes for training tools. I’ve learned to take everything I’ve learned from all the trainers I’ve worked with and make a decision on how to handle the fosters I’ve worked with. There is no ONE way. I’ve had dogs that need a stronger correction than others while I’ve had dogs that don’t respond to corrections at all. However, the one thing I’ve learned is when to see the signs of a dog being stressed out and not pushing them past the threshold. Most times you will find that dogs don’t need much training at all. It’s the humans but like most humans do, when things are going well, they take all the credit. But when they go bad, they find someone to blame…like the trainer or in most cases, they blame the dog.
I’ve had Fletcher as a foster for a little over 3 months. I’ve seen this dog transform before my very eyes and a lot of that has to do with the fact that he’s had a chance to just chill and hang out. He’s tried to go after every animal in my house but he has also learned how to be in a pack and just be a dog. And I have done so by exposing him to my dogs, but at his pace…all while being calm, assertive and consistent. Never once, have I put my dogs in a situation where they appear to be “shut down” or forced into submission with excessive force. If you follow my dogs on social media, I think you would agree that they look anything but stressed out. I may not know everything but I know enough to never put a dog under my care in any stressful situation for an excessive amount of time.
Thanks to a very generous sponsor, I’ve been given an opportunity to meet and spend time with Cesar Millan. And whether you agree with his methods or not, Cesar Millan is one of the BIGGEST pit bull advocates in the world and he promotes pet adoption, two things extremely close to my heart. That alone, makes it an honor to get to meet him. Fletcher and myself will be going there as representatives of Priceless Pets while Fletcher will be representing not only the “pit bull” in a positive light but the rescue animal, in general. With dogs, and in life, you can never stop learning. And starting this Thursday, I get to learn from one of the world’s most influential men when it comes to not only the breed I advocate for but for the cause, as well.
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