It’s been about a week and a half since I got back to Brooklyn from Pat Miller’s farm in Fairplay, MD. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pat, she’s a renowned trainer and author of many great dog training books, including her most recent title, “Do Over Dogs” which focuses on working with rescued dogs. Pat owns Peaceable Paws where she teaches group classes, performs behavior consults, as well as educate trainers like myself. Trainers thirsting for more knowledge flock to her to learn the latest on positive techniques and most recently I was there for her Behavior Modification Academy.
Eight of us with canines in tow spent six days with Pat learning and working to modify each of our dog’s specific issues. I got to work with her dog, Scooter, a nine-year-old Pomeranian who came to live with her after he failed his behavior assessment for resource guarding (possession aggression) two years ago when he was at the Washington County Humane Society. Through systematic counter-conditioning and desensitization, by the end of our week together I was able to take a bowl of food away from Scooter and
actually have him like it. The process taught him that when a human approached him when he had a valuable resource, the human was a good predictor of something really awesome. In his case, he got chicken every time I moved near his bowl and eventually when he saw me close by, rather than hunkering down and eating faster in fear of me taking his food away, he looked up and asked in his own happy doggie way, “Where’s my chicken?!”
I also had the opportunity to meet some other really special dogs. My classmate, Madeline, brought with her a chihuahua named Autumn. A shelter dog from Virginia, Autumn was not eligible for adoption because she was biting shelter staff whenever they leashed her up. After six days of counter-conditioning and desensitization work, several of us were able to leash her up just fine. We were all very concerned with her fate when she returned to the shelter after academy was over. We were worried that the work we did may come undone in a stressful kennel environment. I’m happy to hear from Madeline that Autumn is now up for adoption with some specific stipulations.
And then there was Beans. Ah, Beans. He was a male version of Lucy with some stranger danger issues. We spent the week helping him get used to different types of people approaching him. On day six, his foster turned forever mom, Susie, decided that Beans was okay enough with me that he’d probably do well greeting me. Beans and I shared a few kisses and it made my day (check out the clip we managed to capture with my cell phone). You know me… the gal with a thing for the itty bitty little white pitties…
There were so many fantastic dogs and trainers, I wish I could talk about them all. I have to, however, mention Squid. Squid and
trainer, Bob Ryder, were an inseparable pair the entire week. A foster dog in Pat’s home, Squid was a high energy Jack Russell pup who was a bit mouthy. Bob worked hard to prepare Squid for something really special… a life with a forever home in New York City. Today, he’s enjoying life near Central Park as New York Squiddy!
It was a fantastic week. I always leave Peaceable Paws energized and wanting more. I actually left the farm with a new designation – Pat Miller Certified Trainer (PMCT) for having completed three different courses with her. Give Paw Dog Training is also now a proud affiliate of Peaceable Paws.
I’m already looking forward to my next trip down there in September for the Advanced Behavior Studies Academy.