Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What students think about the UNDERSTANDING DOGS class

A Different Type of Training Class, presented by The Misha May Foundation.
Instructor: Lorraine May, M.A.

An integrative, holistic approach to training, behavior, health and healing, including obedience, flower essences, calming techniques and communication. Includes a behavior consultation / coaching session / treatment plan for each dog. Learn how to solve canine behavior problems! Better yet, be confident that you can avoid creating or encouraging them!

Diane: The Understanding Dogs Class is an innovative way to learn about dog behavior, human behavior and how to integrate them together to enhance the lives of both. The approach is unique in that participants do not bring their dog to every class. Only one participant brings their dog to class, thus giving all participants an opportunity to focus on the lecture material and demonstrations.

The other benefit is that each night is dedicated to a “case study” format for the dog attending class that evening. The lecture materials, demonstrations and lesson topics focus on the particular dog of the night, giving the owner hands on, specific actions they can take home to help improve behavioral issues and address their concerns. I learn something new every session because of the dynamics of each owner and their dogs. Everyone is unique and this class addresses their uniqueness in a very special manner. You will not be disappointed.

Richard: I found this training to be very helpful. I learned things that I had not anticipated but that have helped me understand my dog and dogs in general. I have owned many dogs, most of them rescues of one sort or another.

The dog that Lorraine helped me with in her class is Abby, who is a three year old golden who has had a very difficult life with lots of trauma and subsequent fears. Her fear of humans and her behavior related to those fears had deemed her “unadoptable” from the rescue group that was trying to help her. I knew I needed help with this dog as I did not have the understanding of what she needs in order to feel safe enough to learn and adjust. Like many people I thought she needed discipline and rewards to change.

What I learned in this class was first how animals learn and the types of conditioning we teach them unintentionally which can either help or hinder them. Then I was able to understand more about how the dog needs to be in control of a frightening situation and not the other way around. Instead of dragging her over to meet people she is afraid of, I learned to let her know that she is able to go as far as she wants without any coercion. This allowed her to calm down knowing that she was not going to be forced into a panic inducing situation and therefore eventually she would come in and exhibit the desired behavior on her own accord and this in turn would lead to less stress in other situations now that she has learned how to deal with one.

It is like building a foundation of trust beyond what we already had. She now knows that I understand some of her fears more clearly and that allows her to deal with them. I have noticed that she seems calmer and her behavior has improved markedly.

I will probably ask Lorraine for some additional training for some specific guarding of the car behaviors. She is a much happier dog and much easier to live with now thanks to what I have already been taught.

Chelsea: Thanks so much for the class, I really enjoyed seeing the techniques you used with each different dog that was brought into the class. I really enjoyed the fact that you let the dogs do things at their own pace and did not let the owners force their dogs into a situation that would be too stressful for them to handle.

I think the main thing I got from your class is that everybody needs to know that there is a kind and loving way to help your animals live in a world that is comfortable for them and not full of fear and unwanted experiences.

Jenny: I found the discussion on desensitizing most helpful. For a dog who has issues, to try and minimize or eliminate the fear of certain triggers is extremely important. (e.g., the sound of another dog's tags rattling). It makes sense but I would not have thought to do that on my own!

Sue: I have a perfect example of what works beautifully with a dog. I took Bailey for a walk in the park yesterday, I reigned him in by my side as we approached two other dogs. They were not jumping, they were not aggressive, they were just looking at Bailey as we passed by.

The woman then jerked her dog and actually pulled her up on two legs and was harshly yelling something at her so she would not look at Bailey. This broke my heart. I almost stopped to tell her about your classes but felt it would not be received well. Lorraine teaches with kindness.

In this situation I applied a training technique I learned. I had tasty treats in my pocket, and as we approached the other dog, I distracted my dog by doing the "dance". I put the treat down to his mouth and said sweet things and we literally turned in a circle away from the other dog or distraction.

I wish everyone would take Lorraine's classes because of what I saw in the park yesterday. You do not teach pets with cruelty, they just learn fear.

Cheri: The Understanding Dogs class was a great opportunity for me to work with my dog, Heidi. She had a bit of a rough beginning as a puppy, and so have been working hard with her since to gain a better understanding of her needs, but had a couple areas to continue to work on and thought this class might help and it did. As usual with one of Lorraine's classes, the training seemed to give me more training than to the dog, which is a good thing.

The main issue I had with Heidi was that Heidi wouldn't come back to me off leash or when outside in the backyard when called. After hearing others in the class with similar issues and after talking about how perhaps the dogs aren't understanding what we're asking of them, several training options were presented to try, including trying a different word other than her name or 'come' which I've probably worn out by now. 'Treat' was suggested with a different dog so I thought I would give that one a try. Sure enough, it worked. She came to me like a bullet when I called her in from the back yard, and is consistently doing it ever since. The strange thing is that I have never used that word as she was not a treat motivated type of dog so I was really surprised that word meant anything to her. Now it means 'come' and she sure does get a treat.

I had an unfortunate opportunity to try it off-leash about a week ago when she got out of the back yard through an open gate I accidentally left open and she ran off. I was just sick and she was no where in site. I ran into the house to get the car keys to go look for her and when I ran out again, there she was running right back to me! It was the very first time she didn't run away. I was just thrilled and am sure it's a result of Lorraine's wonderful advice and the training and practice Heidi and I continue to partake in. Thanks Lorraine!

Maureen: I'm a great fan of Cesar Millan. I watch his TV show, read his books and own his DVD series on training your dog. Unfortunately, I have not been able to become him and I always felt inadequate. Since taking Lorraine's latest class, I feel much better about myself. My dog, Nelson, is better behaved and I feel good about his progress. I plan to take more classes.

I especially liked the class where Nelson was featured. It was very helpful for Lorraine and the others to watch me interact with Nelson and get pointers on how to do better. Nelson has a problem walking on a leash. He recently started barking at other dogs on leashes. The last public walk we made, I carried treats and whenever a dog approached, I made Nelson sit and fed him treats. He didn't bark once at the other dogs. I felt it was quite an accomplishment.

Classes are offered in Arvada, Denver, Englewood, Littleton and more. For additional dates and locations, or to invite us to your location, please visit www.mishamayfoundation.org, email mishamayfoundation@gmail.com or call 303-239-0382.

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