How can I possibly describe such an incredible experience SDTSI has provided for me and Jacques. Background of where we started to our current success:
The week prior to Jacques's arrival on Feb 26, 2020, my husband and I went online to find an online training program. We signed up and studied 3 solid days that weekend. We knew, at our age, we needed a family pet that was able to share our day-to-day lives. The program had videos and instructions and the ability to answer questions. After a year, Jacques was well behaved, and well trained on a leash, although not always disciplined.
Training with a Private Trainer in the US
7 hours of working with a personal trainer greatly improved Jacques’ execution of Place, Come, Stay and Leave it. She advised using an e-collar at a very low intensity. Our friend’s dog responded very well and so we tried using it but neither of us felt comfortable with the approach. We used the positive training with and without the collar. When I used it, Jacques would run from me, hide and sit on Richard for protection.
Today we write a success story not just for the certification but for our family.
When I met another SDTSI student on our recent trip, we talked about my anxiety and fear of falling downstairs. She told me about your program. When I looked at the requirements, I was concerned that it would be asking a lot of Jacques and we couldn’t succeed. He had all the basics down, but I didn’t have faith I could get him to do many of the exercises required.
I was surprised. Jacques is smart and loves new things to learn. He has a strong personality. The Preparation and Foundation work was easy as he had been in training for a good one and a half years. The challenge and the successes started when I had to get him to focus and realize who was the leader. We did lessons every morning, each task built upon the previous. For me and for Jacques, reintroducing the clicker took a couple of days. But now I can even use it to call him to come (at first he rejected it, running from it instead).
What I found important is the reinforcement of the foundation and concentration on having him focus. Every morning, we start by reinforcing what he has learned. Jacques responded well to 45-60 minutes of training early morning before he ate. Jacques is motivated by food but he stopped wanting early morning breakfast and so I used that opportunity to train with small but yummy treats. After a couple of weeks, he came looking for me when it was training time.
Understanding the four quadrants of learning helped me a lot in the learning process. The readings about Pavlov’s scientific method years ago were new I’d heard of them, but now I understand it so much better. I have also introduced sign language to Jacques. He responds to “Coucher/Down” with the motion of “down”. I was apprehensive about teaching him to bark for I would regret it …. But the sign language of “shh” with a finger over the mouth works. Jacques tries to talk to me with a little whine and gurgle sounds and when I want him to be quiet this sign language really helps.
We have guests that stop in and so the concept of “place” has really helped. He is instructed to stay or return to stay until called. He gets a “treat” of course, but I suspect as time goes on, he will be content to come to the door to say hello. This task is progressing greatly.
Socializing in any environment was easy. Jacques is always with us. He has traveled internationally, goes to dinners with friends and family, and knows his place at a restaurant. He totally loves meeting or greeting people. But after his learning focus, his “STAY” with rewards has greatly improved, along with his manners, particularly when greeting guests or when he hears a doorbell or knock at the door. He shows great anticipation and excitement but he doesn’t move until he’s called.
Never did I believe I could get him to go and “GET IT”; “BRING IT” and “LEAVE IT” in my hand. Fetch and return as a game is far different than formal retrieval. Today, he, who hates to get his feet wet, walked over the wet grass to retrieve the dumbbell. I truly appreciate the success with step by step downstairs and kisses to relieve anxiety. As we continue our reinforcement training, Jacques’ tasks successes will be more and more invaluable.
We are so grateful for the new abilities and greater discipline Jacques has acquired as a result of this program. It has simply been the best for Jacques, me, and my husband. I’ve been so impressed with the response of all Tutors. Dani and Vincent — you are the BEST. Laura, although I didn’t email you, I know you work hard in the background to observe progress and submission, give feedback and add details. Thank you all.
Jacques will be flying back to the states in the fall. I post Jacques’ successes on my Facebook page and folks are impressed with his progress with these tasks. He will be an incredible help to our family regarding my anxiety and attention to falling downstairs. With his comforting and gentleness, thanks to your program, the whole family benefits.