It’s time for Sasha to continue her schooling.
Our first round of training was with Triple Crown Dog Academy. We did 6 private lessons in basic manners and obedience. Overall our experience was a positive one. There’s no question that Sasha is a better mannered and behaved dog, and we’re better owners for the experience. However, we knew Sasha had some baggage, and there’s just some things about the Kuvasz breed that need tending to. It was our plan to go back to Triple Crown for more training, taking their “basic manners and obedience” in a group setting this time, to help with socialization.
But plans have changed.
Wife was poking around Facebook for Kuvasz stuff and happened upon a woman who was local (well, up in Round Rock, city just north of Austin) and lo… she also had a Kuvasz! Turns out she’s a trainer, S.A.F.E. Training for Dogs. From her page:
Elizabeth Marsh is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) and behavior specialist. For over 20 years, she has been training pet dogs and service dogs and providing behavior therapy services for dogs with moderate to severe behavior problems. She has a formal education in behavioral psychology and is the developer of the SAFE Training method – a proven, scientific and reliable method for teaching dogs to adapt to life in a human environment. She is a certified evaluator for the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Program and a member of several professional organizations including the APDT, Delta Society and The Humane Society of the United States. She is deeply dedicated to improving the welfare of animals through the education of pet owners and their pets. Elizabeth lives in Round Rock, Texas with her Hungarian Kuvasz dog “Gretta” and her Great Pyrenees “Bo”.
And of course, she has a picture up of her cuddling her Kuvasz, Gretta.
I cannot lie. This held great appeal to us. A lady with a lot of training experience, seems to have the credentials, and not only knows the breed but owns it. She’s got daily experience with what it takes. You know, that could be good!
Wife was very excited and got right on the phone with Elizabeth, even setting up a meeting at our house. Me? I wasn’t too hot to it. I knew nothing of this person and just didn’t want to deal with it. So I put it off.
While things are getting better with Sasha well… after the experience we had at Wife’s in-laws, I got to thinking that yeah, we need a “Sasha Whisperer”. We don’t need some generic training routines. What we need is not just general training, but we also need some work to specifically address Sasha’s issues and situation. After the weekend at the in-laws, I decided to contact Elizabeth and get the ball rolling. I figured that she had as good a chance as any, as far as general training goes, but knowing the breed… heck, that can only help, right?
Yesterday Elizabeth came down to our house and spent about 2 hours with us. Us getting to know her, her getting to know us — and Sasha. She asked us lots of questions, we asked her lots of questions. Sasha hung out, and while she was initially not receptive to Elizabeth being around, Elizabeth had us try a few things.
For instance, with a territorial dog, it can be hard to introduce someone by having them come into the room. The dog is there, sees this as place to protect. But if instead the person is already in the room then the dog is brought into the room, it can go over better. Sure enough, it seemed to have a positive effect!
Lots of things were discussed, other tips, lots of reinforcement of what we already knew, some “ah-ha!” moments. It was just a good meeting and time.
Yeah, we’re going to give her a try. We’re going to do more private lessons to help work out the issues, with the goal being that towards the end we join some of the group lessons. Elizabeth is excited by the fact she can work with another Kuvasz, which I think gives us something intangible here… there’s going to be a lot of care going in here, not just another client.
We’ll see how it goes. 🙂