Dog days

I have been reading many diverse opinions on how to train a puppy. According to the experts you’re supposed to treat them like an animal. Meantime, I’ve always picked them up, tussled and rolled, made eye contact and even pet them. Turns out, every instinct I’ve ever had isn’t just wrong, it’s why they behave so poorly.

My light doggie reading.

The first book I read was the “The Wildrose Way.” The author is an former police dog trainer who breeds and trains hunting dogs. I don’t hunt, but this book was recommended by Outside magazine for people who want a hiking companion that can go off leash. Hunting dogs obey hand signals so you can communicate with them in silence and at great distances.

This guy is a stoic when it comes to dogs. He writes in this archaic matter-of-fact style, you can’t help but believe it’ll work. According to him everything is repitition. Simply lather, rinse, and repeat for however long it takes. And when you’re done, maybe give the dog a treat like a strip of towel or a smooth stroke behind one ear and send her back into the cage.

The next book was “Cesar’s Way” by Cesar Millan, from the “The Dog Whisperer” on NatGeo. I love watching that show because every dog is a transformation. I assume some editing takes place, but still, he gets results. What works for Jada Pinkett Smith has gotta work for everyone else.

Cesar spends a lot of time upfront in the book setting context and telling his personal history of being around farm dogs and observing them. If you’ve ever seen him on tv, you know he has an awesome accent. When I read his book, I can’t help hear his voice reciting the words in my head.

I always thought he took some kind of new age approach, but he’s hard core. He believes our coddling of dogs and treating them like little people makes them anxious and therefore leads to horrible behavior. Dogs need to be treated like pack animals and you’re the alpha. His main strategy is to wear the dog out starting with a 4-5 hour jog in the morning followed by an extensive nap in the afternoon. I understand why his methodology works. I just don’t have 18 hours a day to apply it.

So now, we’re going to puppy school. It’s once a week in a light industrial warehouse. We stand in makeshift pens while a woman with a fanny pack full of kibble shows us basic tactics to get Sadie to sit and lay down.