Since a few of you had questions in the comments section about this magical trainer of wonder and delight, I thought I’d make a post about it, just so you get the information, and can find it again!
So basically I think someone just happened to be talking about the all-magical Cesar Milan, and how he was on Oprah and was totally bitchin’ with dogs and used a lot of positive reinforcement to get the dogs to listen. So cut to me buying The Dog Whisperer book by Cesar Milan, and then ordering the DVD of Season 1. In short, I love Cesar Milan, but I don’t know that watching his show will help if you have a specific problem, because I think each dog is different, and I can tell you from experience now that it is a completely different thing having someone come into your home and see your dogs going nuts than it is to watch a DVD and then try some training. Also, I am not entirely sure what The Dog Whisperer book by Cesar Milan is trying to accomplish? Basically I didn’t even finish the book because you learn everything that he says in the book in Season 1 of his show. I don’t think I learned anything new by reading (most) of that book.
Then I thought, okay, if there’s a Cesar Milan, there’s got to be dog trainers that are like him that solve specific behavior issues. So I went to my trusty friend the internet! I am a google fanatic, and (if I may say so) I am pretty good at finding information through the internet. The first time I looked I think I was in Calgary, so I was googling “dog training Calgary” and “Personal dog training Calgary” and “dog daycare calgary” and sometimes if you go to google maps and just write “dog, city, state/province” you can get businesses related to dogs to pop up on the map view.
I believe the first site I came across was Bark Busters. They come highly recommended and have a really good reputation. They are also available in many cities, so they are easy to contact. So I think I contacted the Calgary Bark Busters and got a quote, but by that time I was thinking about moving, so it wasn’t a top priority on my list. Then we moved, and moving to a huge city kind of takes up a lot of your time, Anyhow, a variety of things led me to keep the dog training thing in my mind, but I wasn’t getting around to it. So I checked books and magazines to see if I could maybe avoid the cost of paying someone an arm and a leg to come see the dogs, but really, I didn’t find anything effective. That’s sort of something I think that might just be me, because I’ve used other tactics from books to train the dogs and they’ve worked fine for doing things like teaching the dogs how to hi-five me and other glamorous and exciting tricks.
Winston’s barking became enough that I thought it was time to look up a trainer again. So I looked up ‘Vancouver dog training’ and other similar terms and again Bark Busters came up. I found the Vancouver address and emailed them to get a quote. This is the place, that after tax, would cost $1,100 for both dogs. Clearly this is out of my price range, so I had to decline. The woman I talked to was generous enough to offer me last year’s rate, bringing the cost to something like $750, but that’s a large chunk to pay out all at once, so clearly I couldn’t go with that place. I’m not saying that these people wouldn’t do a great job, as I would have hired them if I had the money. What they do is come for an evaluation and watch you with your dog, then they make suggestions, followed by training and a lot of follow-up, and that price is the full price for your dog for life, so if you ever have any questions about your dogs behavior through it’s entire life, you are covered. I think that’s a really wonderful offer, because you’re looking at say 12-14 YEARS of coverage, and who knows what will happen in that time. I should also point out that $1,100 is the cost for TWO dogs for life. I think that one is like $700? You know, just in case you have the cash to spend.
Then I figured it was time to maybe shop around and get quotes from like 4 more places before I actually make a decision (as I was contemplating saving the money for Bark Busters). I emailed a dog training place in Vancouver who referred me to Hot Diggity Dogs (which is the one I went with). I explained my situation and the things I’d need help with, and she (eventually, I think it took maybe a week or two as she lost my email) got back to me with a price and let me know that depending on how well the dogs respond, that I might need 2 or three sessions. Anyway, this woman (Donna) quoted $75 a session (not based on # of dogs) plus tax. So, HELLO, MUCH CHEAPER! I checked the website and her accreditation and whatnot and decided that even if she maybe didn’t help me too much, that really I was only out $75, which in dog cost terms, is like a trip to the vet.
So on Monday she came to my house and watched the dogs for a bit, and then we worked for about 2 hours on various issues that the dogs have and then we took the pugs outside so that she could see Zelda flip out at another dog (as she’s done to large dogs ever since she got attacked last year by a lab). That was probably the worst part, as I am standing with two dogs that are both SCREAMING at the trainer’s black lab, but in reality, she needed to see what I go through to know how to help me help them. Plus, that was probably one of the last times I will have to be in an embarrassing situation like that, which is a relief!
It’s not all a quick fix, as I clearly am going to need a few months of training with the dogs every day to get them properly trained for what I need them to be doing/not doing, but I knew that going in. It’s the real life tips that will save my sanity, and have been doing so over the past few days!
I am happy to report that Winston’s barking just in the past say, 24 hours has reduced by about 75% just using the tips she told me. We’ve also gone from both dogs tugging the hell out of their leashes to really ZERO with Winston and just a little with Zelda (as she has a fear of manholes that we’re working on). Winston was the bigger problem though because he would be SO EXTREMELY EXCITED that he would just tug and tug and even though he’s just a pug, he is a little tank of a dog (as Donna put it), and he can still pull with enough force that it becomes difficult to walk him at all.
I’d say if you have tried things like books and videos and they aren’t helping, that seeking out some help is a great idea. Shop around! The second place I contacted USED to do in-home training and help, but they stopped, so they suggested Hot Diggity Dogs to me. People in the “dog business” are usually all connected through the conferences and such, so you may want to just try calling a recommended dog training facility/school/daycare and see if they know someone who could come to your house and help you with your dog(s). I found that most of the dog training places also stated that they did private lessons and at-home lessons, so I think it’s all a matter of just asking the place if they can do what you need. If they can’t, they will likely know someone who does. Once you’ve got a few quotes along with an understanding of what you will receive as far as training/write-ups/reccomendations and reading material suggestions, then you can make a good decision about what will fit your budget/needs. I managed to find someone who came to my house, worked with me for 2 hours, listened to all of my concerns, made suggestions and showed me “how to” do all of the things she was suggesting, and also left me a folder with several articles and suggestions of reading materials/harnesses/leashes/treats as well as her contact info in case I have further questions. She is also going to contact me next week as a follow-up to see how the dogs and I are doing, and all of that came to $75.
I’m sure the great deals are out there for other provinces/states, you just have to dig a little to find ’em!