Training Henry

Henry as a pupNaturally, my life is devoted to painting, animals and my family – and not necessarily in that order. However, keeping them all running smoothly and in a harmonious balance has taken creative thinking. Since I am the creative type, I have found ways over the years to make sure we all live happily together.

When I first brought Henry home, he was the cutest, most endearing eight-week old pup in the world. That is, in my humble opinion, of course, and since he didn’t actually spawn from my wife’s loins, I think I speak without predjudice.
As weeks passed, I realized that as a Pitbull he was going to be a big boy. To everyone’s delight he had a sweet nature and an irresistible love of people.

I get quite a few visitors to my studio, and with Henry as my self-imposed greeter to what may be to my visitors’ chagrin, pleases him to no end. The locals have come to know him well, but when I get out of town clientele pulling up in a limo rental outside the studio, I don’t want Henry leaping in his happy go lucky way towards the door to greet them. I started looking for a good trainer.

I asked around, looked at websites, got a feel for those who seemed like they would be a good fit and settled on an Australian owned company called Bark Busters. They had a good reputation, their website was informative and I liked the idea of their positive training practices.As a bonus they even came to me – I didn’t have to load the 40lbs of exuberance into the Jeep.

The following Saturday, Becky rang the front door bell. Henry went dashing toward the front of the house. My wife and I were close on his heels in an attempt to gain ground before he reached the door. It was a close call, but we did make the exact impression on the dog trainer as was needed.

After introductions and a few unappreciated jumps, we all sat down to talk. (As for Larry our pug, he was quietly curled up on the living room window seat trying to get his afternoon nap.)

Becky then went on to describe the world from Henry’s point of view. It was fascinating learning to see things from a dog’s perspective. I came to realize how closely related to the wolf our domesticated pups are and they act on instinct more that logic. To the credit of dogs everywhere they have to figure us out just as much as we have to get to know them, in order to get things right. Frankly, they seem to be faster learners than us humans when it comes to canine communication.

Once my wife and I saw things from a pack mentality we knew our role in the hierarchy. We assumed higher pack leadership roles and I was the alpha. This meant I needed to act like one. Becky went on to show us that by our being in charge, it gave Henry a sense of security because he was in a strong pack. He could relax. It also meant that when the higher ranking pack members told him what to do (and not do,) he obeyed. Combined with some positive reinforcement, a few training exercises, lots of love, we got a well-mannered, “new” dog within 2 hours.

Since I learned to speak dog, Henry has spent every day lounging or playing in my studio. I love having him close by and he is the best meet and greeter any Pugcasso could want.

Readers, how important is training your pooch to you? Leave me a comment and let’s get a conversation going.

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