This blog is a story about a woman, two dogs - and their journey to become a family. Let me explain!
All my adult life I have fostered and adopted very badly damaged and abused dogs. I was their chance for a "do-over" - for a "forever" home where they would never be hurt again. As you can imagine, they came to me with some pretty difficult behavioral problems.
In my heart of hearts I really believe there are no "bad" dogs. There are dogs who act in ways we don't like. But they can be coached into appropriate behaviors by using the correct coaching techniques for that particular dog.
In rehabilitating my dogs I've had the benefit of working with some of the finest trainers in the country. It is through examining their processes and methods that I've developed the concept of coaching a dog to change his unwanted behaviors.
What's the difference between training your dog and coaching your dog? A lot! The trainer generally uses a one-size-fits-all method that compels and/or forces a dog to do what the trainer wants. The coach on the other hand begins with the knowledge that each and every dog earnestly wants to please his owner. Using this knowledge, the coach gently guides the dog into a desired behavior - by providing cues and positive reinforcement.
To produce a new behavior - or modify an old one - the coach begins by developing a mental picture of how he or she would like that dog to act in a particular set of circumstances. Starting from where the dog is right now, a coach uses the dog’s natural behaviors, instincts, skills and personality traits to encourage him to modify his current behavior into the new, desired one. All reinforcement is positive. There is never an instance of verbal or physical abuse - no yelling at or hitting the dog! The dog changes because of his bond with you and his desire to please. The process of coaching strengthens your bond - and reinforces your dog’s feelings of safety, security and satisfaction.
In my entire coaching life I have had only one failure - one dog so badly damaged by in-breeding and enormous physical abuse that I couldn't certify him to be free of sudden rage aggression. At 70 pounds, this dog was unsafe for placement in a forever home. Which goes to prove that sometimes love, determination and tireless coaching are not enough to fix a dog with a broken heart. But my remaining dogs went on to live productive lives in the homes of their families - free of fear, comforted by love, and on to a Happy Ending.
This blog shares the journey of Gracie (a mixed terrier breed), Wrigley (a pomeranian) and me - Coach Marsha. It also shares the life lessons I've learned from my dogs.Whatever problems you're having right now - we've been there too. Our mission is to help every dog find his forever home - and have a happy ending with a family he loves.
If you are working with a new dog, or reworking an old one, I have material to help you. The training guide below covers the first four cues or commands every dog must know - for their safety and the safety of others. Feel free to download it below.
And if you know another dog lover who might be interested --- share our story with them, like it on facebook, retweet it --- it's all up to you. And come back often. If you're having a problem that you can't seem to fix, send us a email and we'll be glad to help. Our goal is working with one dog at a time, correcting one behavior at a time, and making happy endings all around! Wishing you the best ...
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