Positively Success Story: Sam

phone 1 013I 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.IMG_0790

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.


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4 thoughts on “Positively Success Story: Sam

  1. Isa Brown

    I am so sorry if my comments offend, but to be honest this
    is a mish mash of crap. No true dog lover takes six months to bond with a dog.
    A few weeks at most.

    And then all of a sudden a epiphany? Really?

    Bless her for never using a pinch/choke/or shock collar.
    What a trooper.

    And after SIX months she decided the active dog that she had
    REALLY needed a lot of walking.

    Well go figure.

    The basics of a good working relationship with a dog is
    trust.

    I would not trust this "trainer"
    with one of my slippers.

    Sorry, Victoria.

  2. LolasDad

    It all starts with positive training. That was something you should have started right away and not wait 6 months. Kudos to you though because you took the time needed to train your dog. A lot of people do not bother with training and that is one reason dogs wind up being brought back to the shelter. Training a dog is not only good for the dog but it rewards the owner by seeing the dog's progress, the owner sees how rewarding it is for him or her and boosts their confidence in themselves and their dog. On top of all that the dog and owner starting bonding together.

  3. Kari Christianson

    That is a wonderful story! I too, just adopted a lab/treeing coonhound mix with a splash of pittie & beagle..lol..what a mix..talk about vocal. I have only owned her for about 3 weeks and at times it gets very frustrating but I just have to keep telling myself that it will pay off, it will get better & our bond will grow! This story reinforces that for me!

  4. Sam's Mom

    Isa, thank you so much for the feedback!! I apologize that my writing skills did not correctly portray an accurate timeline of my training with Sam. Anyone who would wait 6 months to begin exercising their dog is making a mistake. I began my walks, runs, and cycling with Sam the very day I brought him home. Wow it would be so counterproductive to search out a high energy breed and then not give it basic exercise. It did take me about 6 months to love this dog. It was a lot of work, and I think we both had a hard time adjusting to the new life together. Thank you so much for pointing that out in my story! I am very thankful to have a socialized companion today, and I am also very thankful that my dog handling/training skills are better than my writing skills. Sam says hi!!

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