So Last week I blogged about my promo with Yukon the K-9 unit and I mentioned Hector Hernandez First Class Dog Training in Okemos, located in Nancy Moore Park. This is my first hand experience.
Perri the labrador is a rescue from the Humane Society. She’s been through two different families and suffered being repeatedly struck by her previous owners. On top of that she ran through an electric fence and was hit by a car. She now has a pin surgically inserted in her left leg and can no longer bend it. You wouldn’t notice any of that at first glimpse because she’s one hell of a puller. We’ve learned just how capable she is of snapping her leash or pulling you off the deck with a single lunge. So last weekend we brought her to Hector Hernandez group obedience class in order to learn reliable training skills to save her life (and our arm sockets). Hector is a former law enforcement officer and police K-9 instructor (Yukon’s instructor). Thanks to Joy Zhao who was there promoting the class by pure coincidence, I have photos of Perri’s first class.
As I walked up with Perri she was already pulling and lunging at the other dogs, so Hector immediately brought out a prong collar. I’ve been skeptical of prong collars because I thought they were harmful. But like all training tools, if a professional dog trainer shows you how to use them properly, they can be used humanely and better assist you with keeping your dog calm and under control.
She initially fought it for a few seconds, but settled down quickly. We worked on heel, sit and U-turns for the entire class, and she quickly transformed from a dog that lunged at every bird and leaf, to walking calmly by my side. Hector explained what signs of stress and dehydration to look for before proceeding with the training sessions.
We took breaks frequently to shade and hydrate the dogs. If there’s one concept that Hector hammered into our brains, it’s that dogs use their brain in order to rebel, which means the ones that rebel the hardest are very intelligent and difficult to train because they’re always one step ahead of the trainer.
This was very much the case with Perri because she understood the commands so quickly that she became bored. You could tell by the way she rolled in the grass and dug at the dirt with her paws. With her ADD disposition she’s extremely capable of multi-tasking, so we’ve already set up plans to enroll her in a higher class to further advance her training.
Her former training was positive reinforcement with clicker and treats, which was unreliable outside the house because she was obsessed with birds, rabbits, cars, children… all of which are in high supply in our backyard, which unfortunately has zero fencing. This made off-leash training impossible. Another set back was that Perri could care less what treats you give her. She doesn’t care if you reward her with steaks for sitting. Who wants to be given a trophy for every accomplishment?
To make a long story short, Perri is now doing amazingly. Walking her is no longer a liability. In fact I walk her whenever I get the chance.
Now as promised, here’s a teaser photo for my next promo. Hint: it has something do with seeing the dentist.