So, one of my part-time jobs is teaching classes at Teamworks Dog Training, LLC. I teach puppy class, a manners class, and a distraction proofing class. I really enjoy the dogs I meet and watching their progress over the course of the seven weeks.
I try to make sure that the humans know what an important thing they are doing for themselves, their dogs, and the bond between them. It really does make me all emotional thinking about it.
And then a friend posts a recent rescue experience on Facebook and it really drives home the importance of training. I’m posting it here, with her permission, in its entirety.
“I have been going back and forth on whether to post this or not, but I think it’s important for people to learn from the tragic as much as we take joy in the positive. Remember: owning a pet isn’t enough. Training is part of their care. [my emphasis]
“A month and a half ago I brought home a foster dog named Optimus. He was super friendly, had a huge smile and at 97 lbs was quite the hunk. At the shelter he was uncertain, didn’t appreciate people invading his space and let you know. Over the course of his stay here, I got to know a friendly, happy-go-lucky guy who ignored the other animals in the house and just wanted to be your one and only. He began to trust me and would let me in his space, but was still wary of those he didn’t know when it came to his crate.
“I also got to know a dog that wouldn’t tolerate anyone messing with his food or high value food treats. After an evaluation by a reputable rescue, it was determined that because his behavior was so ingrained it would be difficult (if not impossible) to reverse and even more difficult to manage given his lack of warning. Not to mention the sheer challenge of placing a dog like this in a responsible home. His power, size and behavior made him a high risk for becoming a future bite dog or even worse. He was deemed not safe to adopt out. While it hurts my heart, I completely agree. As a result of this determination, Optimus was euthanized this morning. I hate that it had to be this way for him.
“Why did it have to be this way? Because while his owner was happy to have a big, powerful, gorgeous dog, he didn’t think it was important enough to train, mold and shape this big, powerful, gorgeous dog into a well-behaved and safe animal.
“The result? He sentenced him to death with his lack of training and then by dumping his responsibility on someone else. I’m sorry Optimus that you were desired for your looks, but not important enough to invest time and training into. I wish I could have done more for you. Be free now. I’ll miss your huge smile and big bear hugs.” ~BK
So you see it means the world to me to see Mister M come to class with his mom and dad. He’s just nine months old but has been bounced around to several homes and fosters – hmm, maybe that’s what makes him such a bouncy guy. He’s an adolescent who hasn’t had any structure or direction in his life. He is loveable and boisterous and real jumping bean Tigger.
M has found his furever family. They understand he’s not the perfect dog (yet!) and that training is the second best thing they can do for him. I can already see they’re giving him tons of love and a good home.
One last thing, please be thorough in researching your dog trainer. Punishment based training is not a solution. I truly believe in Teamworks dog training philosophy …
At Teamworks, our goal is to help you create a successful relationship with your dog by building trust and mutual understanding. We believe in and use family-friendly, humane training methods that enable effective communication between people and dogs. We teach our classes using positive-reinforcement based training and encourage the use of humane “people empowering” techniques. We do not use or tolerate harsh physical punishment-based methods, as that outdated style of training has been shown to damage the bond between dog and person, and often escalates aggression.