Oh my is that true. I've been battling certain behaviors of Casey's from the moment K brought her home. Charming and lovable, she is also an exceptionally manic dog, and especially when she was a puppy, she surged from one naughty behavior to the next so quickly that it was impossible to intercept and redirect those behaviors; by the time I'd reacted to one, she was three ahead of me.
|Casey in one of her quiet moments. Quiet, but not un-naughty.|
She's not actually allowed on the couch.
Age has mellowed her ever so slightly, but she's still a crazy barker and a lead-puller who never seems to calm down, and I had despaired of finding a successful way to control or at the very least take the edge off those behaviors. Not that I hadn't tried. The amount of our bookshelf space devoted to dog-training books has quadrupled since we got her. I read the books; I try the suggestions, but I just can't seem to get her to focus on anything but squirrels. And bait. She likes bait.
And then I was looking at the J and J Dog Supplies catalog and noticed a book called Understanding and Teaching Self Control, by Suzanne Clothier. It was $4.85, and I had to order a new leash from them anyway, so I added the book to the order.
Changed. My. Life. Clothier's premise is that some dogs don't know how to control themselves, and she has a very simple, effective way to teach self-control. You learn how to do it in basic Obedience class, and this is just a targeted application.
I tried it the afternoon I got the book and by evening, Casey had gone from whirling, barking dervish to astonishingly well-controlled dog who would give a warning bark when she saw passers-by, and then come to get me. Calmly. She knew exactly what to do, once I knew what to tell her to do, and she seemed relieved to be able to do it*.
I also tried it with Pooka, because I finally realized that his guardy behavior was one of the triggers for her excess, and that he needed a dose of self-control, too.
Best $4.85 I ever spent. It turns out that training the trainer—even a dumb one—is pretty cheap. And very effective.
*Yes, it really is that simple. And no, I'm not going to tell you what it is. Support the trainer who figured it out—buy the book.