I've been seeing Lori Stevens for well over a year and a half. I started seeing her with D'light and later with Catty as well. Lori has been a valuable asset & amazing resource to me. While she's helped me with our personal dogs, she's also helped with the foster dogs that pass through our house. We tend to work on a variety of issues that mostly revolve around how I can work with the dogs using force free training and of course touch and movement techniques. It's been a wonderful experience, I've learned more than I ever thought possible and my thinking of dogs has really shifted thanks to Lori. I truly can't thank her enough for all that she has helped me with. She's improved more rattie lives than she realizes.
So off I went (of course bringing Tulpen) for our consult on loose leash walking! I want to be clear that one of the ways I've changed over the recent years is in my thinking. What I've come to understand is that often times the difficulty with training isn't due to the dog. More often than not, it's the human that's struggling, not being clear and confusing the dog. The dog just gets the blame for why the training isn't working. We forget that they are trying to live in our world and understand our expectations. If we are not clear, not consistent and stop working with them, that's where the problems occur. It's imperative that the human do their own work around training so that they can help the dog live in our world. Once I made that mental shift, lots of amazing things began to happen and my connection with our dogs and the fosters deepened as a result of my mind shift.
|Off we go!|
When looking for a trainer, you need to find someone who you can be honest with and trust. You have to be open to suggestions and constructive criticism. And you have to find someone who's training methods support/nurture you and your dog. I personally have found force free training as the way to go and as you've seen via my blog it works wonders. It offers so much and the bonds you build with your dog truly are amazing. Training becomes interesting and lots of fun! I've become much more curious since traveling down this path. With force free training you build a relationship with your dog - it is not about dominance/control, it's about teamwork and understanding.
For me, working with a trainer is a humbling, at times embarrassing and often times, an exciting experience. I like to figure things out quickly and when I don't I get frustrated. I've found over the last year, I've had to chill out a realize that for me, this work takes time and while I think I'm a pretty quick learner, I still have a lot to learn. And you know what, that's great! The more I learn, the more I grow and the more I can help the dogs in my care.
I knew I was struggling with Tulpen and as you will see in this next video I was right! This was taken by Lori and it was humbling and I had my head hanging a bit low when I watched it. And here's the great thing about a 1:1 session - Lori was right there (not video taping) going over how I needed to adjust what I was doing with the leash. I would have loved to have video of all that but, we had work to do and there's only so much taping that can be done. And in my opinion, that too is a sign of a good trainer - video taping and then going over so you can watch yourself. This is a amazing teaching/training tool for the human.
And then Lori took Tulpen. These two videos are within 15 minutes of each other. See what I mean when I say "The training problem is often the human not the dog".
I posted these videos to highlight how having a trainer you trust can help so much and save you and your dog a lot of frustration. Yes you still have to do the work as the trainer won't magically fix what's going on but, they will get you on the right path for you to succeed.
Below you can see I'm getting better. I'm still putting too much tension on the leash.
Lori had a great idea for helping me to reduce the tension on the leash. A slider leash that is a 2 point of contact leash but, the handle slides allowing more movement and less tension from me and from Tulpen. When we tried out this leash with Tulpen and we did see a difference in how he moved and it felt much better on my end.
So you may be wondering how long is this going to take for a solid loose leash walk? If Tulpen was still in my care, roughly 20-25 sessions (I'd say a sessions would be about 30 minutes) of the two of us working on loose leash walking. Training takes time and remember we are teaching a whole new skill and that doesn't happen over night. We would never expect a human to learn a new language overnight! Again it takes practice, consistency, clear communication and commitment. Lori gave me the tools I needed to be successful, it would be up to me to do the work.
However, Tulpen went home 2 days after this session. The great news is that I was able to spend about 45 minutes with Tulpen and his mom going over the work that Lori taught me. In that 45 minutes, Tulpen and his mom were doing really well and it's just going to take time, consistency and commitment. All of which Tulpen's mom has for him. I gave her the slider leash and she has a couple force free trainer referrals in her area that she's going to be contacting. It was great to set Tulpen and his mom up for success and again many thanks to Lori for helping all of us!
If anyone is interested in learning from Lori, she's presenting a 2 day seminar in March on
Lori also has a great DVD Walking in balance with your dog