Michael Vick dogs teach dog owners a lesson - Jim Burwell’s Petiquette

For anyone needing a glimmer of hope or words of inspiration that would give some kind of sign that says, “Yes, you can
fix your dog problem!”  look no further than the Parade Magazine in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle.

I’m talking about the story of the Rescue and Redemption of Michael Vick’s dogs, written by Jim Gorant. It brought a smile  to my face and, okay, I might have gotten a little misty eyed (as well) depending on who you talk to at my house).

This way of teaching and communicating to our dogs is nothing new to my clients  They have heard me lay out my program to rehabilitate their dogs that have an array of problems – everything from aggression, fear, house soiling, separation anxiety and much more.

Here’s a just part of the article about a Pitt bull dog named Jonny who was accepted into a regular guy’s home (I think he was a manager of a car dealership) meaning he had no special
dog training or behavioral expertise himself; although, he has fostered a number of Pitt bulls in the past.

Jonny, the dog,  is now a Therapy dog that helps kids improve their reading when the kids read to him. Here’s an excerpt

“Jonny was one of the unsocialized-but-happy crowd of  Vick dogs, which is how he ended up with Cohen, who had a pit bull of his own and had previously fostered six others as a volunteer for the rescue group BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls).

“The first step was to let him unwind his kennel stress,” Cohen says, referring to the jitters that follow dogs out of long-term confinement.

He countered Jonny’s anxiety with quiet time and “the rut,” as he calls it. “Dogs love a schedule,” he explains. “They love knowing that the same things are going to happen at the same times every day. Once they have that consistency, they can relax.”

Cohen put Jonny on a firm program of walks, feedings, playtime, and relaxation, which helped relieve his insecurity and fear, emotions that can drive canine misbehavior

“A big part of it is building trust,” Zawistowski says, “teaching them that the world is not out to get them.” Within 10 days, Jonny embraced his routine and began to relax.

Cohen then started working on basic training. Dogs raised like Vick’s react excessively to external stimuli. If they see a bird they want to chase, they chase it.

Learning even the simplest command forces them to tune into their internal monitor, especially when the command is paired with rewards such as food or affection.

Suddenly the dog has to make a choice. “Do I do what I want or wait and do what has been asked? Good things happen to me when I wait rather than simply following my impulses.”

Teaching a dog like Jonny to sit is essentially retraining the way he thinks, according to Dr. Randy Lockwood, the ASPCA’s senior vice president for anticruelty initiatives.”

My Point:?—– For those of you concerned about your own dog who has a far better life in your home now than any one of the Vick dogs, let this be your inspiration, your glimmer of hope that great things can be accomplished for and by those with time, patience and a good plan of action.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!” (just ask Jonny!)

P.S. You can read the whole story here: http:/www.Parade.to/dogs