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Prong collars, oh my!

Lifting the collar
Lifting the collar with man hand.

Prong collars – that and e-collars have to be the two most misunderstood and controversial pieces of walking/training equipment.

Prong collars has been a topic that has come up a few times in my program groups and 1 on 1 chats of late and its had me thinking about you guys, and how much or even how little you may actually know about this bad boy.

So I wanted you guys to be apart of the conversations we have been having behind the scenes this past week.

I have had many people assume I am a purely positive trainer.

For you guys as a dog owner you may not even quite understand what that means, or you may have some of an idea, heard that reward based training, positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to train a dog.

And to look for a trainer that does that instead of harsh methods, dominate ways of training.

And I agree.

But that doesn’t make me a 100% positive, reward only trainer, if that’s what you are looking for you have stumbled onto the wrong dog trainers.

Soz.

However despite that fact I am an absolute softey, and I have found myself sharing with my clients this week a “back in the day”  story of when I was looking for answers for Bundy.

I was criticised about how gentle I was with him, I was too soft, too forgiving, too nurturing and motherly with him and I needed to be harder on him. I was the reason why he was so f’d up and if I got it right things would be fixed.

I knew with Bundy after 12 months that only rewarding his behaviour and ignore the bad wasn’t enough, I could see it was leaving out some of the picture and basically he just didn’t get how to life outside of what I was teaching him was good,

Ignoring “bad” behaviour, which was him just really struggling in knowing what the bloody hell to do left him out in the open floating with no guidance and no idea what to do.

But when I worked with balanced trainers, I felt the emotional gap between Bundy and I grow.

He understood more, but we as owner and dog, we who were meant to be best buds, didn’t come closer through that work. Admittedly it worked with the fact he was easier to handle, I didn’t feel so stressed and anxious about him especially taking him out of the house.

I stopped doubting myself as his trainer, but as an owner I still felt a disconnection between us.

It absolutely sucked, and I had no idea how to fix it, maybe it was just a thing that happened with some dogs and not others, maybe this was just always going to be us.

I spent years avoiding training with a prong collar, I wasn’t that sensitive that I thought they were barbaric.

Although when showing people I do tell them I agree it looks like a medieval torture device.

Keeping in mind LOOKS and IS are two very different things.

I had tried all other pieces of walking equipment, he found a way around all of them to pull and lunge at people and he was hurting himself on them.

I remember years before that when I was promised a head halti was the best way to go.

I spent hours getting him comfortable with it at home I even watched the DVD it came with TWICE.

The first time out of the house he was triggered several times, by the time we got home his nose was cut and bleeding I was like f’ that and didn’t use it again, and yeah I still came home with blisters on my hands. That was a regular occurrence for at least the first couple of years.

It was roughly 4 years in and honestly not enjoying using a check chain which was what I found to work the best but I still wasn’t happy with using it, I finally tried the prong collar.

Which funnily enough it was the prong collar that brought us closer together.

The thing is this the prong wasn’t what fixed things.

There isn’t a single tool that magically fixes anything.

But because of the way it looks my mindset changed and I knew we needed to work as a team instead of looking for tools to just fix them dam problem.

I knew there had to be a greater structure put in place so that this whole weird walking thing that we make dogs do – because lets face it a leash is just not natural in any way for a dog.

It motivated me to get really serious about it to dig more into connection, team building, working together not just I say and you do kind of attitude whether that be for treats or not

but to be honest I could have had this mind set with ANY tool I put on him.

It changed how I structured our training, that I didn’t want it to be formal and bossy not only did I want that team work feel when walking I wanted it every time I spent time with him.

And thus began structuring exercises and concentrating on training methods that carried out into our every day life so I could just be in the moment with him, relax and enjoy him and his every quirk without having to be switched on and demanding on him.

It stopped being about positive vs balanced, harsh vs soft, it became about me getting to be who he is and him getting to be who he is and us learning to work together to move in and out of the house more harmoniously together.

Because of that I am happy to say 6 years in I finally had my best mate, it finally came together.

For my clients who do use them – keep in mind we have clients spread across Australia and the laws differ in each state on both e-collars and prong collars.

They feel the same.

But heres the thing.

That started forming before the prong was introduced.

I often refer to our training especially our leash skills element of our program like a dance.

All be it an awkward dance at first – even for me with every boarding dog I work with sometimes I even stumble and get the steps wrong as we learn to work together.

And not all of my clients use it. I have one badass client who is in a wheelchair and she handles her two large breed dogs like an absolute boss on a flat collar and a halti.

It’s such an individual thing but the tool is such a small part of the whole picture.

If you came to me and said “should I buy a harnerss” “would a halti work for me” “should I go get myself a prong”

My answer would be hold up, we need to work out whats going on, how much your dog actually understands about what the leash and whatever it is the leash is attached to actually means to the both of you.

If you have been around for a while now you know with me, we dig deep, I don’t have a quick fix, this will do it answer for you, so I don’t encourage to just go out and get a prong collar, or throw your halti in the bin because of my bad experience.

What I would LOVE for you guys to do is question, try to step into you dogs paws, try to see it from their perspective, try to see how much they truly understand about the world around them especially that darn leash, those things that trigger them.

That’s where the solutions are born in getting a deeper understanding for your dog and where the gaps in communication, in your relationship and team work lay.

And if you are like my clients and you don’t want to have to wait as long as I did to discover the methods that really dig in and help not just now but long term.

You know where to find me 😉

 

Kids and Dogs

There has been a lot of traction and talk and knowledge and training around safety with kids and dogs, bite prevention etc

I haven’t bothered to mention it on here because well, I figure I will probably sound like a broken record.

You know how to teach your kids not to be assholes to dogs, that stuff toys are for squeezing jumping on and pulling ears, tails etc

Living breathing animals need and deserve respect, care and a gentle approach.

So what does it look like when your dog(s) has a really healthy relationship with your kid(s)?

I was thinking about this yesterday as I was hanging out the washing, I wish I had of had my phone on me because it was such a sweet moment I wanted to share.

I have two beautiful kids Mason 5, Eleanor 3, Eleanor came outside with me and sat on the grass to watch me, after trying to “help” me and it just wasn’t working out.

Jax our Staffy came over and sat on her lap, she has just been learning about where dogs love to be scratched the most, so as soon as she sits, he knows he is in for a treat.

They were both calmly enjoying each other’s company when Bundy came to join them laying beside her and placing is head on the other leg Jax hadn’t plonked his big butt on and she started scratching him behind the ears.

No in your face business, no over excitement, no being too rough or worrying that one may upset the other, no over excitement I got to hang out the washing in peace and both dogs and child got to plug in and connect with someone else.

Never underestimate how powerful connecting through touch really is.

My kids also play with the dogs, one of there favourite games is chasey, were they run and Jax plods behind them knowing he could easily catch up to them but is enjoying just being in the moment with them.

Or fetch where the dogs will patiently sit there and wait for the dogs to throw the ball, they have been taught not to taunt or tease the dogs with the toy and to play by the rules both dogs and kids have been taught or they just simply aren’t allowed to play.

Because they can play together well, hang out quietly and calmly well, or sometimes completely ignore one another and go about their business, my kids can freely come in and out of the house, yes I check on them but with 2 kids, 2 dogs and a busy schedule running a biz etc I don’t always have the time to sit and watch every thing they do, if I did have to do that, my kids wouldn’t get to spend as much time outside.

Now I’m not saying any of this to say through your kids outside unsupervised and she’ll be right.

A lot of work went into both kids and dogs to achieve this dynamic and I am so thankful for it.

Running a business takes up a lot of time and I don’t always have the time or energy to exercise the dogs the way I would love to,

In fact you may have noticed I have been pretty quiet recently, and it’s because I have been struggling with chronic pain issues just recently I was stuck in bed for three weeks.

Thank goodness I have incredible clients who were still learning, working and making progress even with me being bed bound you guys are rockstars.

And I’m on the way to recovery.

But I have also been incredibly grateful that the kids can help me out by playing with the dogs and spending time with them, which relieves so much stress from myself and the guilt of “not doing enough”

It was hard work to get the structures and foundation in for both kids and dogs but in the bigger picture of things is has made my life easier.

The best part is the older they get the more that they can do with the dog, wearing them both out so if I’m tired or just wanting to chill I can enjoy them both in their quieter moments.

because sometimes we want to muck around and play with our kids and dogs and sometimes we have had a big day and our body is asking for rest, and every mumma is more than deserving of some down time.

especially you.

If you have kids especially of primary school age but you aren’t taking advantage of how much they can actually help you out with your dog(s) we should definitely have a chat x

 

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Leash reactivity

Have a dog that’s reactive on lead?

Certain triggers on walks cause your dog to lunge, whine, bark or growl on lead?

Feel like you completely disappear to your dog no matter what you so or do to get his focus off the trigger, back on to you and back on to just simply walking nicely?

Feel like you have tried EVERYTHING and nothing seems to work.

Classes, private lessons, different walking tools and methods.

What if I told you there was more to it and having your dog walk nicely on leash or using a particular tool is just one very small factor in the bigger picture?

Check it out as I talk about the missing pieces most people are struggling with.

 

Dog training not just for the Albury Wodonga area

Location, location, location.

Is not everything.

We often get asked where we are located which I am always more than happy to share, we are located on the border of NSW and VIC residing on the Albury side.

HOWEVER

We have clients spread all over this beautiful country.

Funny story one of my clients regularly dropped her dog off two houses up from mine, we worked through all hers and her dogs issues and met for the first time at our first retreat 5 hours away in Phillip Island.

ahhh I love our retreats, take me back…

anyway!

We have clients who live hours away that were struggling with anxiety issues, reactivity issues even issues between dogs living together and without ever meeting them we have helped heal and solve these issues as well as move onto greater more exciting work and adventures with these wonderful people.

How does it work and whats the catch?

The catch is you have to be willing to put in the work, dog training has never been about the dog, what we can hands on teach your dog is irrelevant and what has always been the most important piece of owners success is how well they learn, and what skills they learn to build a better understanding of their dog, how they can create stronger communications and bonds with there dog so they can have clear communication with each other no matter where they are or what is happening around them.

unfortunately the educational system for humans up until now hasn’t been well designed having people rely on their trainer being there in person to help move them through the sticking points.

The cons of that? You have to wait a week, 2 weeks between consults and with some trainers and behaviourist 3 months until you see them again.

Who has time to wait around hoping they are getting the work right and what if it’s not quite suited to you and your dog?

What if it does need to be changed a little?

No dog or person is the same and while things are similar, everyone’s household set up is different. How do you ensure the work is correctly fitting into your life.

How do you know when or how to shift that work into other areas of your life?

Fade out food?

Not have to rely on certain management techniques you have built in to avoid triggers or sliding backwards.

You deserve to have all that catered to.

Don’t get me wrong I love working hands on with the dogs and the people, selfishly I had a really hard time moving into this formula of teaching, I would love to spend in person time all the time with my clients and their dogs, I absolutely adore them but I wouldn’t have the chance to serve the people I am so blessed to serve that are spread all over the place and I wouldn’t be able to spend as much time working with them as “hands on” as I do now.

I get to know my clients on a deeper level than ever before, I almost feel like I get to step into their home on a regular basis throughout the week, offer more solid and sturdy support through any difficulties the dogs have in transitioning to better behaviours.

Get a deeper insight into what is and isn’t working and are able to coach them through any sticking points faster and more efficiently than ever before, the best part about that? Is because of that my clients get to learn more from me in the time we spend working together.

How we educate dog owners is changing and we are at the forefront of that change, I’m a results based and driven person, I want the easiest, communication and connection driven, sustainable training methods that I can find for my clients and I have searched high and low and hired the best of the best to formulate good, strong educational systems for them to set them up the best I possible can for success.

and well, when I look at my clients and the progress they make, a pang of jealousy does make itself known, because they are doing things in weeks that took me thousands of dollars, working with several trainers, and a butt tonne of hands on experience in training and 6 years of dedicated work to achieve for my own personal goals with my dog whiiiiich finally after a long ass journey it came together and they do it in a matter of flipping weeks BUT not only do I get that *little* pang of jealousy.

it also makes me dam proud that they took a chance on me, that they trusted me and the educational platform that I had constructed for them.

Jumping on almost a decades worth of behavioural work, mistakes experiences learning what does and doesn’t work within a HOME environment, with a busy schedule a business to run kids to raise and high energy dogs to deal with when you so aren’t a jogger but you do love a nice stroll in nature, to be doing things they didn’t believe were possible, having results spring up where they weren’t expecting or focusing on.

It’s bloody brilliant to see.

and they all agree on the same thing, they ALL wish they had of done it sooner.

Want to know more?

Hit me up for a free phone consultation so we can have a chat, assess what your needs are and IF we are the right fit for what you need xx

 

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Changing your dogs mindset.

I had a client reach out yesterday having trouble throughout the course work, I was waiting for it.

I prep all my clients for the kick back, when things are going great and running smoothly then bam it’s a shit show, sometimes behaviours they have never seen or haven’t seen in a long time surface.

For those who have been playing along on this page for a while know I have discussed doggy tantrums before.

You don’t think they will happen until they happen.

This is what happens when dealing with and working through heavy and deeply ingrained behaviours like anxiety and/or reactivity, (where the dog is flying off the handle and all the owner can do is hold on and hope it will be over soon, or hope the neighbours don’t complain to the council again as their dog flies at the fence.)

The work we do is deep, see you can do surface stuff, sits and drops but it doesn’t translate to every day life, when you are moving around the home with your dog or out and about on the street.

The systems we use are complex but the work is simple, we know how and why the things we teach our clients work all the have to know is HOW to do the work and it makes complete sense to them.

It’s not the work that’s the hard part, it’s easy.

The hard part is changing a dogs mindset.

When you have a dog that is make decisions from a very emotional place, I describe it as their brain basically falls out of their head, everything disappears except for the one thing that has triggered them and nothing in that moment is really all that effective.

My job is to help clients get in there and build communication and methods that help a dog learn how to regular and be more self aware of his emotions as well as being able to pop that brain of his back into his head so that he can realise he isn’t alone in this and there are other choices.

Emotional change and growth for a dog is hard, it’s like trying to learn how to write left handed when there is nothing wrong with your right hand, your brain fights what you are doing when there is no logical reason not to do it the easier and more sufficient way, you see as far as your dogs brain is concerned what he is doing is the best, easiest most efficient way of survival.

He isn’t doing it to be a jerk, to spite your hard work, and this is why we work closely along side our clients to make deep changes isn’t easy and so many things are working under the surface that can halt your progress, and if you don’t know it’s normal that it’s a part of the growth and change, well, most people throw in the towel and say fuck this right before the break through right before the dogs brain accepts the changes and builds the “muscle” to carry out the new behaviour just as efficiently as the old behaviour.

One thing I realised as I spoke with my client yesterday is that in a perfect scenario none of them would need me.

If they had a different dog, a more balanced dog, one that had a better start in life, less energetic, less drive or if they had of had the training in how to handle energetic, drivey dogs, been aware of that dogs genetics and known what the future may be with that dog before bonding and falling in love with it, if they had of picked a different puppy. If the timing was different.

They wouldn’t need me.

Its not that they lack the ability to care for, train and love a dog.

They have all owned dogs before, they come to me with skills and experience prior to this particular dog.

And yes you influence your dog. your choices, your management of their behaviour does have an impact, but when I look at each individual dog, they aren’t easy dogs no matter who owned them, how they were raised from day one, they would still have their challenges, their quirks, they are highly intelligent highly emotional dogs.

They are different they aren’t your regular easy going lab that just gets a little excited.

These a complex dogs with complex things going on under the surface.

I see people often getting caught up in where did I go wrong and if I can find that one point, maybe recreate it? Maybe work back from there we can fix this.

Going back will not help you move forward.

All my clients know this – they could have maybe eventually found the answer on there own they are driven people who work hard on the things they care deeply about, they are always willing to fight for their dogs happiness and aren’t content with just ok, that drive would have had them continuing trying with or without me.

The ONLY difference between them and me?

I have dedicated hours upon hours and learning practical and theory for over a decade, I have made numerous mistakes, watched and taken data on others, poured hours into making things work and continually improving the process.

I made this my lifes work, this is something I wont ever stop working on, it’s a slight obsession I’ll admit but I wouldn’t have it any differently.

And the best part is that my clients don’t just learn from me, I am continuously learning from them as well.

And one thing I have learned is that they are all so capable of handling these dogs when they piggy back off of the years of blood sweat and tears I have poured into this profession.

That’s what happens when you hire a specific person for a specific job that you don’t have all the answer to, you fast track your own journey by jumping on the path they have carved out.

We don’t have time to learn all the things, to do everything on our own.

You wouldn’t spend 3 years learning to cut and dye hair just so you could give yourself any hairstyle you wanted.

You wouldn’t spend 4 years learning to be a mechanic just to service your own car.

And you certainly wouldn’t enter the life of becoming a GP just to be your own doctor.

Dogs lives are so short compared to our own, and the one thing I hear from every client is “I just wish I had found you/done this sooner”

as always with training the sooner the better but it is NEVER too late to create change x