After several postponements, I finally got to meet with a childhood friend aka My Puppy Whisperer, Alex L. I've known this clown since Kindergarten. He's such a funny guy. He's just so cool. He used to live down the street from me. We both lived across from our elementary school so I'd see him almost every day.
Fast forward to a couple years ago. We reconnected with the help of the internet. We had dinner at one of my favorite Japanese restaurants, Hotaru to catch up. Later that week, we hung out at a bar/lounge, Pier 23 where he acted as my wing man and vice-versa. Wing man duties failed after he unknowingly tried to hook me up with a friend from our high school. Initially, things were great. The dude was very friendly (blame it on the alcohol) and talkative. Alex's match making skilled failed when dude's wife snatched him away from me while we were dancing. Alex was mortified and I was shocked and embarrassed. A friend of ours, Steve was all nonchalant, "...Yeah, he got married like a couple weeks ago..." "THANKS FOR SHARING THAT INFO WITH ME!", I yelled out. We immediately gave the sign to each other that it was time to call it a night and leave the damn place. I had no right to be mad at my wing man since he too had no idea that dude was married. We walked out of Pier 23 and headed to our cars. It was dead silence. Awkward moment I must say. What just happened?! Afterward, we could not help but laugh about the entire situation. Hysterical!
Fast forward to today. So, I've been anxiously trying to meet up with him. As you know, I got a puppy back in September 2009. Bam is now 6 months but I still have been having some difficulties controlling him. Alex, by the way, is a dog trainer. I guess I forgot to mention that. Once he got the word, he was also excited to meet Bam. A few months prior to today, I would get his ever so helpful advice via g-chat about how to's. Soon, the online advice wasn't good enough for me. I needed Alex to see what a challenge I was going through. So, we finally met this morning.
His initial meeting with Bam was so not pleasant. Alex walked into Bam's territory (aka the Living Room) and immediately did not acknowledge him. Obviously, Bam felt intimidated and let out more than a few barks. More like hella barks. Loud barks, too! Bam was like (well my interpretation of it, at least):
"WTF! Who are you and what are you doing here?! I don't know you. You are in my house! Don't you dare ignore me! Respect me damnit. You better say hi or I'm gonna keep on barking until you do so! Don't make me jump on you!"
I never seen Bam act like this before! Oh NO! Then Alex walked directly in front of him. Snapped his magical fingers and busted out a loud "shush!". Then there was dead silence. Bam listened and sat without command. What?! Amazing!! My consultation with Alex lasted about 2 1/2 hours. It was so damn informative and a bit overwhelming at the same time. All the pieces finally came together. I most definitely learned a whole lot of massive information. I finally knew why Bam acted so disrespectful to visitors. Mainly, because I let him. I know, I know...shame on me. Instead of treating him like a dog like all owners should, I treated him more like my human step-child hoping that eventually, he'll learn on his own and grow out of this terrible two's type of behavior. Uh no. Negative, negative, negative!!
Yes, I'm the pack leader and Bam knows that. BUT he respects me only to a certain extent. I had no idea that he had me wrapped around his little dew claws. I had no idea that I....(ME?!) was encouraging some types of bad behavior. I read all the books puppy training books. I should be right! I'm doing this right! Uh, negative, negative, negative.
One thing I learned that Bam feeds on my mood and energy. And if you don't know me, personally. I'm can be a girl on crack. My mind runs like 100 miles per second. I constantly have this "on-the-go" type of attitude. I get eagerly excited when people come by and visit. So does Bam. I like to rush things. So does Bam. I'm extremely impatient. So is Bam. I always have this internal schedule that I have to live by. If it doesn't play out as planned, I get very bothered. So does Bam. I'm also very stubborn and hate being told what to do when I don't want to do it. Ummm, so does Bam. You see the problem wasn't really Bam. It was ME!
"Don't worry", Alex says. "This can all be easily corrected especially since he's still very young dog." Whew! I let out a big sigh of relief and he laughs. "Stop being so uptight!"...."Relax. Two things you have to do in order for this to work is the following"
- EXERCISE! I'm sorry. You're not going to like what you're about to hear but 1 hour each day won't cut it, especially for a Lab. Try bumping it up. He needs a way to release his energy. Walking is good. Running is great! At least 2 hours each day will definitely help him be more of a relaxed dog at home.
- BE CALM! Bam is a smart dog and knows when you are calm. When you're calm, he too will learn to be calm and submissive. He needs to know that he only can exert his energy during exercise time. If he's not calm, correct him. If you correct him over and over, he will soon learn that being overly excited is not OK. You have to find it within you. Whatever makes you less tense, work off from that. Don't yell. Don't cuss. Control your tone and your body language.
That above was just a teeny weeny bit of I learned today. Too many faults of mine to state. I don't want to talk about it. (Typical of me.) But, in a matter of time, I hope to have the most well-behaved dog ever.
Until then, let me share with you a picture of Alex's prized possessions, his kids (see above). Isn't his family the cutest?! Thank you Alex, my Puppy Whisperer. I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me today. I am totally going to refer you to pet owners who want to "fix" their dog's behavior!
Couple hours later, Bam is amazingly STILL showing signs of calm and submissive behavior. It's a miracle!!! See proof below.