Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Training Student's Success Story

Here's a wonderful and supportive story from one of our students. Thanks Lark!!

Confessions Of One Confused Dog Mom & A Thank You Letter To Marthina & Our Pack Trainers

I just want to say thank you so much & I don't even know if I can voice the gratitude I feel. I have had Lola almost 4 years. I took my 2 required training classes ( not from Our Pack) and we got our basic training certificate's. I knew we didn't deserve them. Basically we just finished the course. I was very confused when it came to training Lola. We were a spectacle every where we went. I convinced myself it wasn't our fault. That Lola was lovable but a major spaz and maybe just too neurotic to be to trained. I justified myself saying it's ok because Lola is not dog or human aggressive. The thing is when you own a large dog and in my case especailly a Pit bull mix, people DO NOT believe you when you say "Oh she's a good dog, she just gets excited." It was very important to me for us to be good breed ambassador's but I was so confused and frustrated on how to get there. In the mean time I spoiled Lola to the point where she ruled our house. Bad manners galore.

Now to the Thank You part. I was tired of looking like the crazy lady with the out of control dog. So I called Marthina and she came for a house visit. OH BOY! Marthina told me what to work on and to come to the next Sunday class. I came home from the first 2 classes discouraged. Then in the next class Lola did better. So I was like YAY! Then we had a set back Lola would not listen or look at me during our training outside of the house. This went on for a week. Frustration mounting, I blew up. I was done. There was no way I was ever going to be able to train my (baby) dog. I e-mailed Marthina and told her I give up......

What Marthina emailed me back changed our lives. Marthina told me to relax. Stop rushing. If I was trying to train Lola while I was frustrated then Lola was going to pick up on that. She said that it was ok to go back a few steps and to stop taking it personally, Lola was not trying to make me mad. A lot more was said. I read the e-mail about 10 times and I got it, it just clicked.

Now we love training class. I love that the Our Pack training instructor’s takes the time to answer my questions. I have a lot. They really want all of us to succeed. I also know when they tell us we are doing a good job, they really mean it. They don’t blow smoke if you know what I’m saying. I don't rush myself or Lola. We are a team and we have fun. Some day's Lola has an off day. Now I know how to gently but firmly get her to focus and if she can’t we take a break. I now keep my bad day's out of our training too. We have a long way to go but now I have the confidence that we can do it.

Lark McIntosh & Lola


  1. love that story! and boy can I relate - what really resonates is THE DOG IS NOT TRYING TO MAKE ME MAD LOL! I have to do that frequently- step back and calm down and remind myself - the dog is freaking or not listening because of MY demeanour - take a deep breath and try again.... I have 2 rescue GSDs (one abused horribly and the other reclaimed "junkyard" dog) and a demented terrier that EVERYONE had given up on (and, in an ironic twist, is the ONLY dog that MUST be muzzled if we are around people! which makes people look at us quizzically ... a 90 lb GSD, a 65 lb GSD and an 18 lb terrier and he has the muzzle!). I now also have as a foster a rottie/hound mix (it was me or the rainbow bridge).

    I love stories like this - it gives me hope.

    I think it also important to look back at gains ... Llyr wasn't even housetrained when I got him and didn't know the most basic commands. He really has come so far.

  2. That's so good to hear selkie thanks!

  3. Lark, What a great story, but you are the one who has done the work! You haven't given up and look at the results. Lola is so full of joy and to watch her watch you in class is what it is all about!

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  5. I can't tell you how many times in the first three years of owning my rottweiler cross, Chubbs, that I have come to my wits end, broke down crieing and told my boyfriend to take him back to the shelter!! Of course he never would, and I would never of let him but I know how it feels to feel out of control of your own dog. I relate to this post because I had to learn the same things this person did and I can now enjoy my dog and his quirks. Great post.

  6. I just love the story.
    I had trouble with my own dog. We changed training schools and found understanding and great advice.
    One thing the trainer said to me has always stuck.
    He said, Do you love your dog? I of couse said yes.
    He then said in a kind of pleading voice well, don't ever give up on her.
    She is almost 12 now and very, very much loved

  7. Great post! I know the spoiled rotten, out of control dog thing. I did that to my dog saying to myself, "well, she had a rough time before she got to me". I read a blog post on BAD RAP's page and they were working with spoiled rotten fruppie. I remember reading, "nothing in life is free" and having trouble with that because my dog had it tough so she should get a lot free. What I learned after attending training here in my home town with someone who had experience with these dogs is that what she deserves is a solid, consistent and fair pack leader so that she knows the rules and follows them. She's happier, I'm happier and other folks are happier seeing that I really do have a friendly, well-behaved and social dog. We have fun doing obedience work too. I think it makes our connection that much stronger and it always a good day, even when things don't work out perfect! Good for you for not giving up!

  8. I'm so glad I read this! I have a really smart, quick learning dog and then there's Patch, our pitbull. He just gets so excited and happy about things (he actually gets "boingy" and tap dances!) I'm learning to settle him down and wait for calm (oh, boy, the waiting). Your post really encourages me to NOT take it personally and go at his pace. Thank you SO much for posting!!!