Training a Pet Can be an Experience for the Pet Owner

East Lansing Town Courier
October 10, 2004
Written By: Nikki Norris

I have been asked repeatedly over the last couple of weeks about my lively souvenir from Mexico - Meha (the dog I brought back, for those of you who don't remember). So, it seemed that an update on her exciting adventures was in order. In the last installment on her life, you'll recall that I practically went to the end of the world and back to rescue the crazy, fun-loving, Mexican princess from her life on the streets of Play Del Carmen.

But, can you imagine the rest of the story; as Paul Harvey would put it? A lot can go wrong when you remove a "wild" dog from the only world she's ever known. I've tried to be patient and at first believed that slipping her across the border would be the biggest challenge. Boy was I wrong.

Once this wild two-year-old mutt arrived at my house, she began terrorizing the neighborhood. It wasn't her fault. After all, she was an outside wild dog who had never been around people before - not to mention English speaking people. Of course I have already heard all the jokes about her not understanding the language and that was why she was such a terror.

Well after weeks of chewed furniture, knocked over lamps, down-filled comforter chaos, damaged shoes and doggie presents left on the floor (if you know what I mean), I decided that I might need some professional help (and not just from a therapist - I was suffering some serious losses). I contacted Kendra Tycocki from Bark Busters Home Dog Training. I had considered taking Meha to a traditional dog training session, but felt that Meha may not learn that way because of the other dogs distracting her.

I was very skeptical that Kendra could do what she promised. She told me that she could turn Meha into a good family member with proper doggie manners in less than two hours or my money back. Well, I had to see this for myself. I was up for the challenge because I knew that I had nothing to lose. Meha had already torn up all of my cute, trendy pointy-toe high heeled shoes and frankly the battle was on. It was either going to be Meha or my shoes, and I was leaning toward my shoes.

Kendra arrived and gave me a brief presentation about how we need to communicate with dogs. And for the record, I was not a very effective communicator to my little Meha (I was feeling a tad bit guilty). Apparently, you are supposed to think of your dog as a very young child, setting rules and educating them. Dogs learn how to behave from their owners. It all comes down to the information the dog gets. For me to be able to achieve my desired results I had to get control over Meha. She needed to see me as the pack leader! So after our two-hour session, my dog was behaving like a well trained show dog, which kind of freaked me out.

Surely it would end when Kendra left my house, right?
Nope. I continued to work with Meha every day with the exercises Kendra had left for us. Today, she is still a very nice little princess. I do have a funny story to share that illustrates a little of Kendra's training technique.

A few weeks after my training session, my little Meha decided to run out the door before me through the garage and after a nice lady and her little white dog. I took off running after Meha with my rake flailing around and started to scream a command I learned from Bark Busters. As I approached the lady and her dog, I shouted out to Meha "Bah!! Bah!!" Which is pronounced; Baaaaahhhhhh. Of course Meha fell over on her back in her submissive position, but the lady looked stunned. Can you imagine that sight? Not only was the lady being terrorized by a neighborhood dog, she was probably not sure what I was going to do next. The lady immediately started telling me to relax and everything was going to be ok, but was surprised and thrilled to see how the dog reacted to my command. I tried to explain that is was just a training technique, but secretly I am sure she thinks I am crazy.

Needless to say, I have not seen that lady in my neighborhood since that incident. If any of you have any fun dog stories you would like to share, they would be appreciated. Dogs, in my opinion, are the best companions a person can have. Dogs listen and never talk back, they are always excited when you get home and love you unconditionally; wish I could find a man to do that.

Hey, a girl can dream.

Reprinted with permission from East Lansing Town Courier