Positively Success Story: Sam
I adopted my first dog Sam from my local Humane Society in 2010. I was looking for a younger and active dog, so when the shelter introduced me to this 10 month old heeler mix, I was sold. He was attentive and calm at the shelter, however; when I brought him home it was a very different story.
The first thing I noticed about Sam was that he panted quite a lot. He never would lay on the couch, bed, or even carpet. He would always lay on the hard wood floor by the door. I know now a lot of this was stress. After about a month he began to chew everything. Sam ate my room mates cell phone, television remotes, and he even at a disposable plastic razor. He hated being groomed, and trying to clip his nails took 3 people, a muzzle, and the vet. When I would try to walk him, it was a nervous frenzied nightmare.
To be honest for the first 6 months I had Sam, I did not bond with him, and was unbelievably frustrated with him. The breaking point was when Sam went after a cat. I remember watching him and thinking I should try and harness this intelligence and energy into something productive.
I began walking Sam twice a day for about 2 miles. I would walk him literally as much as he wanted. I then began basic obedience with Sam, and he loved it. Together we soon mastered recall, stay, and walking on a leash. We then moved on to tricks, and he thrived even more. I was shocked at how quickly he would pick up on concepts.
I never used a pinch/choke/or shock collar. I did use a head collar initially, but we have been able to phase that out. I used food, praise, toys, and consistency. I was mocked and criticized through my entire training by other trainers who said I needed to use “corrections” and punishment. I never could bring myself to using these techniques with Sam. I know from the first day he didn't trust me. I couldn't understand how using pain to train him would help him build a relationship with me.
For me trust is the foundation of training a dog. If Sam is confused or scared he will look for me instead of running away or displaying aggressive behavior. I still have Sam and I enjoy every moment I have to spend and work with him. He still has his issues, he can be very vocal at times, but I wouldn't trade him for anything. He has taught me leadership and problem solving skills, and he has given me companionship.
If you have a problem dog, do not give up. They may never be prefect little robots that obey your every command, but they are filled with potential and love.
Victoria is joined by dog behaviour expert and a driving force behind the UK Dog Behaviour & Training Charter Andrew Hale to...
The rescue of 180 Chihuahuas sparks a larger conversation on how to transition dogs from crisis situations into homes.
How do dogs perceive sound and can music help dogs suffering with separation anxiety and aggression? Joshua Leeds and Alynn...
Articles from Victoria Stilwell
- Why I’m Not a Purely Positive Dog Trainer
- Becoming a Dog Trainer
- Social Bullying
- Does Your Dog Respect You?
- Differences Between Male and Female Dogs