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'Top dogs' are the target of Yucaipa trainer

Discussion in 'Pit Bull News' started by firedrake13, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. firedrake13

    firedrake13 Good Dog

    YUCAIPA - When police busted former NFL quarterback Michael Vick's dog fighting venture "Bad Newz Kennels" in April 2007, the initial call went out to euthanize the 66 fighting dogs, including 53 pit bulls.
    "Too menacing," and "ticking time bombs," some dog experts said. In the past, animal shelters put most fighting dogs to death because it was assumed that they were too dangerous to rehabilitate.

    But many organizations that specialize in rehabilitating dogs refuted that claim. And to date, those organizations, such as BADRAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls) seemed to have proven their argument that trained-to-fight pit bulls can be rehabilitated.

    One trainer who believes that is Kym Caldwell of Canine Companions Obedience Training. She steadfastly contends that most dogs can be rehabilitated or trained regardless of their age or their past behaviors.

    "It takes a lot of work, but it can be done," said Caldwell, who has provided dog obedience training for nine years. "The dog's problem is caused by the human, and it takes humans to correct the problem."

    The difference between human and dog behavior is one of, "letting go," Caldwell said. "Dog behavior changes much quicker than human behavior, because dogs let go of their past, whereas humans don't forget, they don't let go."

    Caldwell's job is not so much training dogs as training the humans at the other end of the leash.

    "The technique to train dogs to have good manners is easy," Caldwell said. "But it takes the human's part to correct, because most (bad dog behavior) is caused by humans."
    Witness Skeeter, a 1 1/2 year old chocolate labrador, who in a recent obedience class was the social butterfly of the group. Skeeter's idea of a training session was to meet and play with the other dogs.

    But his owner, Kim Bailey, had other plans.

    "I want to make him better on the leash and be able to take him places without having such a struggle."

    The key to that is letting the dog know who is the leader of the pack, Caldwell said.

    "Hierarchy is important to dogs," she said. "The top dog gets fed first, hogs the toys, and is the ruler. My job is to train people to be the top dog in their family."

    Of all the commands, "come" is the most important, Caldwell told the class. It is the only command in which the dog's name is used.

    "Dog training is the same training as at Sea World for teaching whales and dolphins," Caldwell said. "Slowly you start weaning the dog off the treats as they learn commands and their behavior improves."


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