Worth Every Penny

Yet again I was interspersing quiet cursing with a cheery “Rocky…Here!” I’d taken the chance our dog wouldn’t decide to explore the “rustic” back corner of our yard…and lost. Again. This is an overgrown area with fallen trees and thorny vines. Not a problem for an agile, thirty-five-pound dog. Not a lot of fun for me.
Our dog is an excellent dog in many ways; no resource guarding, counter surfing, or separation anxiety. He was even a “boat dog”, joining us throughout the summer on our sailboat and napping while under sail. But there were a few issues.
Rocky was terrible about recall. A happy and excited tone of voice did nothing to entice him. When we tried clicker training, the clicker scared him. Tasty treats were ignored for whatever scents he found and we could never compete with the squirrels. Fencing would solve the problem at home, but we spend weekends at the Cape with access to beaches. The few times the beach was empty, and took the chance and removed the leash, he ran with joyful abandon in a way he had yet to do at any dog park. When we first adopted Rocky, we looked forward to days walking with him off leash through the woods or at the beach, but he didn’t listen when called and risked his safety.
In addition, anytime someone came to our door, he barked frantically for what seemed like forever. Our efforts to stop the barking or get him to settle in one spot only seemed to have minimal or short-term success and he managed to frighten some of our smaller guests.
We’d worked toward a tug-free walk from the day we brought him home, trying the gentle leader and other harnesses. While an improvement from where we started, we still struggled with the walk every day.
After listening to Jeff’s podcasts we decided to try the prong collar…and experienced a leap forward as Rocky seemed to finally “get” what we wanted from him on our walks.
Because we still struggled with recall, we considered using a remote collar. We made an attempt to introduce “do it yourself” wireless fencing early on with Rocky, but without proper training, it was not successful. We knew we wanted experienced guidance to use such a powerful tool and decided to hire Jeff.
On our first session, Jeff came to our home and evaluated how we handled Rocky. Working with tools and using proper technique, we exceeded our goals for Rocky and for ourselves. Things went so well, we achieved yet another goal, one we didn’t even bring up to Jeff during the initial evaluation…fostering a dog. The real world training made all the difference when a new dog came into our home. The “place” command was especially essential as the dogs got used to each other… and took to wrestling during our dinner.
Throughout the training, Jeff proved to be exceedingly professional, calm with our nervous dog, and tactful when offering feedback. Any concerns 6 sessions would not accomplish our goals were gone in that first day. Rocky is a much calmer and more confident dog. And every time we get to grab a few minutes with Rocky to play in the backyard before going to work, without the worry about chasing him down, we are reminded how great it is to have the freedom to watch our dog in his element.
In our household, the financial decision to hire Jeff was not done lightly. It required some planning, but it was worth it. Every penny.

Andrea & Neil

amanda hillegas