Ever since we got Luci, I’ve had trouble with her responding to the "come when called" command when she’s off leash and running away from me when she had something in her mouth that she wasn’t supposed to have. We took her to obedience class when she was very young (3½ to 4 months old) and she did great during the class. She learned all the commands and did them perfectly. While she was on the leash. She didn’t do so well for me when she was off the leash. But she would listen to the instructor and she would listen to Hubby. That meant that the problem was me. I wasn’t projecting enough authority for Luci and she knew that she didn’t "have" to listen to me. I can’t tell you how many times I had to chase that little dog around the yard to get her to drop a rock, or a nail, or some piece of metal that she had found in the yard. Or to get her to come back in the house after going out to potty in the middle of the night. I even resorted to bribery – getting out the yummy chewy treats to get her to drop her "treasure" or to come back into the house. That worked, but then I was afraid that she was going to get fat from all the extra treats she was getting. And it wasn’t really reinforcing my authority with her.
So I got out my "mom voice" and started working with her so she’d listen to me. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t project enough authority for Luci to listen to me. I was one of those wimpy mommies that you see at the store pleading with her kid to behave. "Now, dear, we don’t do that. Please stop. No, don’t do that. Please come here." I never wanted to be one of those mommies. I wanted to be the mom that had the perfectly behaved kid. I wanted to be the mom who could just give "the look" to her kid and the kid would instantly behave. It just wasn’t happening. And I felt like a failure.
Let me explain that I never had this problem with either Goldie or Blacky because they were both always eager to please. So they never disobeyed a command. Ever. Blacky even responds to command that I’ve given Luci. Until Luci came along, I never knew that I had a problem projecting authority with the dogs. I was at my wits end. I had no idea what to do to make this crazy dog listen to me.
Then I discovered Cesar Milan. The Dog Whisperer guy on TV. I read his book. I watch EVERY episode of The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel that I can find. I saw how he helped Oprah with her dogs. This guy is amazing. I thought that it can’t be as easy as he says. All I have to do is project a calm assertive attitude and Luci will respond to that and obey me? It worked in every episode and on every dog that he helped. Heck, what did I have to lose? So I tried it. And it works!! I’m not getting an immediate response 100% of the time, but she’s realizing that I’m not playing around anymore and that I expect her to listen to me. We still have a lot of work left to do, but at least I’m not chasing her around the yard all the time anymore. And I haven’t resorted to bribery in a week. I’m so excited that I can’t stand it. Even Hubby is impressed with how well she’s responding to me. He thought I’d spend the rest of my life chasing her around the yard.
To be honest, I don’t know if it’s the tips I picked up from Cesar or the fact that she’s getting older and more mature. But I don’t care. She’s starting to listen and I don’t feel like a failure anymore. Thank you, Cesar!