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I am new to this business and fairly young in dog trainer and behaviourist terms, but I have had negative experiences with my dog which puts me in a good position to understand the frustration many feel with their non-cruft standard pooch.
the negative experience - the motivation
First I will set the scene, a young couple semi-rescue an Old English Sheepdog, from a friend of work colleague. Didn't know enough to question why we were not allowed near the parents (though we did think it was strange we did see them through the window running around in the garden), later found out that they were aggressive towards strangers.
Raised the puppy to the best of their ability and went to traditional training classes, where they were told that they had a dominant dog who would use aggression to prove his point. We were taught techniques to manage the situation, Toby could never be around dogs when toys or food was involved. Would not walk on a lead due to his desire to be in charge and so a gentle leader was sold.
Despite these issues, Toby grew into a loving and friendly dog. We never saw any dog to dog aggression (unless around food) until he was attacked by two little dogs who ran underneath him and bit his belly. Then we continued to manage his behaviour which slowly escalated around some strange dogs.
All the males in his life loved rough housing with him, he was great to wrestle with though his favourite move was pinning people by sitting on their head - a few funny photographs were taken. Here we saw the beginings of out later problems. Toby didn't like over excitement or eratic behaviour, he would correct with nips anyone he thought was getting out of hand. My brother found it hilarious to tickle me and then see Toby nip me and bark until I stopped squeeling. Toby had little patients with puppies and would often tell the cats off when they got hyper. Being the sensible one, I started to work on this behaviour and with the use of the wii got Toby use to sitting on his bed while we jumped around the livingroom. Unfortunatly I didn't know to take it further, while he remained on his bed he was definitely not relaxed about the situation.
A couple of years later I went to University to study History and War Studies (which I loved), I'm sure it's not unexpected to hear that by the end of the first month I had become a regular watcher of day time tv. One day I was trying to convince myself that the TV was a good source of information by watching the history channel for some context and feeling on the Vietnam War by flicking between the history channel and E!, when I flicked onto Nat Geo Wild by mistake, there was a small Mexican man with extremely white teeth talking about energy and dogs. Being British I was highly sceptical and more than a little dismissive of this clearly American program and only watched a small part before switching off and getting down to some work.
In the holidays between my first and second year of university I got married to my partner of 7 years, as we had been together so long we were pretty keen to get to the baby part of life. This knowledge spurred me on to work through Toby's issues. I looked at traditional advice and sticking to Britain followed Victoria Stillwell who gave similar advice as my original trainer. While we made progress it was a struggle and his behaviour was not predictable or consistant. Feeling some what despondant I once again came across Cesar Milan and this time what he was saying rang true. So I started working on Toby Dog Whisperer style - I was impressed to say the least, he was finally allowed to be the dog he was, no more dominance issues, he would eat his dinner and only his dinner next to a dog he had previously attacked for being in the same room as him while his food was being put into the bowl. He ignored unstable dogs on the walk, turning his back or sitting until we were ready to move (not at my instructions just his natural calming behaviour). We followed Cesar's advice to bringing a new baby home, and it was amazing. Toby was so calm and considerate of George and George's things. The problems started when George started to crawl, it became clear that Toby saw George as an animal rather than a person. Toby would react to George in a similar way he reacted to the cats and to puppies, not very tolerant and quick to tell them off. Recognising the problem I started to work with Toby again, and this is where it all went a bit wrong. I missed the fundamental principle of Cesar Milan's teachings of EXERCISE,