You’ve earned a fan for life.
I apologize in advance for the length of this “little” thank you note, but the impact your videos had warrant the length. About 5 weeks ago I adopted Bruce, an approximately 10 month old beautiful coated GSD from Carolina GSD Rescue. Bruce had been in the shelter for two months and eventually fostered before I got him. I was warned that he was “dominant”, “strong willed” and a “handful”. While I don’t subscribe a lot to the old school theories of dominance or the “Millan” method in domestic dogs, the last two descriptions were spot on. Bruce had 2 failed adoptions out of the shelter because he “wouldn’t listen”. After bringing him home I discovered that he had basically never been socialized properly with dogs or people. He jumped up on guests, went crazy at other dogs, mouthed, etc. I live in a suburban Lexington, South Carolina apartment complex that doesn’t allow large dogs or GSDs, but I have a prescription for an emotional support animal due to anxiety. Obviously I was allowed to have him, but I do feel like they’re watching us both pretty hard because they don’t want him here.
I was lucky that a friend of a friend knew a very good schutzhund trainer who had 2 decades of experience training working dogs, police K9s and show dogs who also had a coated GSD and took an interest in Bruce. Unfortunately I am getting ready to move to another state for a new job and I only had the opportunity to have 3 training sessions with her. She taught me how to properly fit a prong collar, do doggie introductions, basic sit, down and stay commands in our sessions but that’s as far as we got. I still had issues with Bruce pulling on the leash, weaving, trying to “herd” people, pretty normal adolescent GSD problems, only slightly magnified because I’m starting the training in the “teenage” years with Bruce. Now let’s fast forward to last night.
I was YouTubing dog training videos. I will be totally honest in that I was a little skeptical of the first of your videos I watched because it involved e-collars. I was always under the impression (that I now understand was totally wrong) that e-collars were just attached tasers for dogs. I’m a police officer and am very familiar with behavior modification through electricity as sometimes, sadly, I have to do it with people to the tune of 50,000 volts. I had no idea that e-collars were much more similar to TENS units than tasers. I will be ordering one ASAP and starting your low level remote training techniques in the very near future. I decided to keep an open mind and kept watching other videos. An hour later I was still watching. You discussed so many behaviors that I’d seen in Bruce and demonstrated in detail how to overcome them.
The video that got my attention the most was the Heeling 101 video. I’ve seen other dog owners whose dogs would heel, sit when they stopped, etc. but Bruce has never come close to that. I saw you demonstrate the leash work and sits and thought to myself “this is a finished dog, dog’s don’t learn that quickly”. This morning I’m very happy to say I ate those words. It took about half a dozen times of the fingers on the rump + light leash pressure to get Bruce to sit when I stopped, then I didn’t need the fingers at all. Now all I need is just enough leash pressure to tell him “hey, sit”…it barely makes the collar move. We had the most structured, enjoyable walk around the property that we’ve ever had. It was simply a different dog. We walked for maybe 20 minutes and came back inside. He’s STILL different. He came in way more relaxed than he usually is after a walk. Currently he’s just lying in his favorite place (the cool tile in the foyer) relaxing like a normal dog. This is probably the biggest surprise for me. Bruce DOESN’T do relaxing lol. He’s super anxious so he always “patrols” the apartment and rarely lies down without being crated.
You’ve earned a fan for life. I am going to watch all of your videos and come up with a training plan for Bruce using your techniques. I can’t wait to see what he can do once I’m trained to properly communicate with him what I expect. I know it took a lot of time and effort to put those videos together as I have produced and created training videos in my IT consulting job. That is time you could have spent with your business making money, but instead spent it bettering the lives of pet owners everywhere…and we appreciate it!
Thank you so much from the bottom of both our hearts.