The Dog Whisperer

11 years ago - #Oz#Gogo

I hate to admit it, but after South Park did an episode featuring "The Dog Whisperer", I dediced to watch the show. I've been hooked ever since. For those of you that haven't heard of the show, it's on the National Geographic Channel. You can also go to Cesar Millan's website: http://www.dogpsychologycenter.com/.

I started using his tactics at home on Oz and Gogo. I have to admit, they've worked very well. When they decided that they didn't want to behave, I used to give them a very loud and aggressive "HEY" to get them to pay attention. It worked, but I really didn't like looking that out of control on the street. So I switched to Cesar's "PSST" which I don't have to do as loudly for them to react to. And I taught them that by doing a gentle but quick hand-claw on the their throat while I made the sound. The first time I did it to Gogo, she threw her ears back in shock and stared at me in disbelief. I only had to do it twice with her. She now knows that "PSST" means business. Gogo no longer waits forever on our front steps before coming down for a walk. Whenever she stubbornly pulls towards a doggie store, I give her a "PSST" and she gives up. Oz has been a little slower about picking up a reaction to "PSST", but it still works wonders. He's much better on walks.

I've also been able to significantly cut down on their dog aggression on walks. For a while, it was getting pretty bad. I was crossing the street whenever I saw a nother dog coming because i knew they were going to lunge and snarl at another dog. I changed my behavior so that if another dog is coming up to us, I put both Gogo and Oz behind me and make sure I stay in between them and the strange dog. Their aggression is almost none existent when I do that. I've now let them say hello to other dogs and I carefully watch Gogo (since she's usually the instigator of dog aggression). If Gogo starts to growl at the new dog, I give her a "PSST" and move her behind me. It's worked wonders.

I just read the following link: http://www.newsday.com/features/printedition/ny-etlede4743494may17,0,1617948.story?coll=ny-features-print. I guess it's not surprising that everyone wants to sue Cesar Millan or talk about how he's "set dog training back to the middle ages". There are too many people in this world that only know how to take aim at other people rather than create success for themselves. Positive reinforcement works for training tricks, but there are some behavior elements that just cannot be addressed with positive reinforcement. We've given Gogo a lot of positive reinforcement, and she often uses it to walk all over us.

It's also a shame that people have reduced Cesar Millan's tactics to "being abusive to your dog to get it to pay attention". There's nothing in his show about being cruel or physically abusive. When I went to do the "hand-claw on the neck" with Oz and Gogo, I barely applied pressure. They understood what I was doing without me having to be physically harmful.

Well, thank God the South Park guys gave Cesar some room in the spotlight to Cesar.

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As fate would have it, in the summer of 2005, we adopted little Isaac, Gogo's younger half-brother. He was raised in the city, and seemed to enjoy coming back after living at Renee's place for a few weeks. We re-christened him "Oz", since that was the name we were going ot give Gogo if we had gotten a boy. We've since discovered that it's a good name for him, because he's got the courage of the Cowardly Lion, the clumsiness of the Scarecrow, and he's as squeaky as the Tin Man. He whimpers at just about everything.
David got me a new camera - a Konica Minolta DSLR, with a wide-angle lens. Although these aren't as extreme as I was hoping to get, I still had fun. Here are some shots of the dogs with a wide angle lens.
For those that don't know, Gogo has floating patellas - which means that her knee caps don't stay where they should. We had one of the knees fixed last September. The recovery was pretty bad (she just laid there and cried the saddest sound in the world for the first two days), but she moved much better afterwards. Well, the other knee started showing signs of problems and her movement started to go down again, so we scheduled to have the other knee done. I took a picture of her inncoently sleeping this morning, unaware that she was scheudled to go in for surgery.