By Susan Burke March
According to National Geographic, dogs have accompanied humans for more than 10,000 years, and are probably the first domesticated animal. Besides the companionship that owning a dog brings to your life, dog owners tend to be healthier than the average person. Dogs improve your social life — dogs are friend-magnets. You’re more likely to engage in conversation with strangers when you have a dog along — you might find you remember the name of the dog before you remember the name of the owner.
Dog owners tend to be less depressed — interacting and playing with your dog increases your blood levels of serotonin and dopamine, the “feel good” hormones that help prevent depression. Dogs are silly! They make you laugh…more good hormones.
Kids growing up in households with “furred animals” have a lower risk for allergies, asthma, and for eczema — scientists think that babies with greater exposure to potential allergens develop stronger immune systems.
Dog owners are more active, and so are their kids. Several studies show that heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those without — and male pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Thieves hate dogs. When researchers asked burglars what factors most deterred them from choosing a home to rob, their #4 was a dog inside — both big dogs that are scarier looking, or little “alarm dogs” — the yappy ones that alert you.
Happy Dogs, Happy Owners
Dog lovers Robert Casares and his wife Alejandra are founders and trainers of the Dog Obedience School of Cuenca. Robert related that he knew from a young age that he had a special gift for understanding dogs. He said that when he was about eight years old, his grandfather warned him away from a neighborhood dog, but Robert worked hard to make the seemingly vicious dog his best friend.
Robert spent many years living and working in New Jersey, and although his profession was hotel administration, he practiced his passion for dogs by volunteering his training expertise in dog refuges. A member of the prestigious Association of Professional Dog Trainers, after returning to Ecuador, Robert and Alejandra established the Dog Obedience School, and over the years they have developed a reputation as being able to train even the most challenging dog.
Robert emphasizes that dogs crave boundaries and consistency. Dogs are highly social animals and almost all respond to positive reinforcement. Unlike the discredited “I’m the alpha dog” method, relying on punishment, choke colors, spoke collars, and shock treatment, positive dog training means creating a relationship of trust and demonstrating the position of leader. Robert teaches dogs to recognize firm and clear commands with consistency and supportive, enthusiastic reinforcement.
Positive doesn’t mean permissive, and a well-implemented positive training program is how Robert successfully works to transform an out-of-sorts, fearful, even aggressive dog into a healthy, happy, and well-behaved one. It’s wonderful to see the excited look in the dogs’ eyes and watch their upbeat body language when they have obediently performed the task and are rewarded with treats, pets and praise.
Instead of punishment training, Robert demonstrates the “whole dog” approach, taking into consideration the dog’s history, breed, age, gender, and also the household — are there kids and/or other pets at home; is home urban or suburban? The owner’s experience and self-confidence are of vital importance in training too. Inexperienced or well-intentioned owners may adopt a disadvantaged dog, not realizing that the dog has been abused or had been living on the street and is fearful and anxious. Or maybe the dog has just has grown into bad habits over time. Robert’s method is to use consistency, combined with exercise and discipline, to transform your dog into a happy, contented pet and you into a confident owner.
Adult & Puppy Obedience Training Programs
To start, Robert will come to your home, to observe your dog and you together, understand the family dynamic and household situation, and then recommend a training schedule. The owner and the dog are trained in tandem and should you decide to enroll your dog, you will be enrolling yourself as well. Without that commitment on the owner’s part, the dog will not be able to benefit completely.
In the Adult Training Program dogs stay for two weeks at Robert and Alejandra’s home, and are taught new manners and protocols, with special attention to the dog’s unique challenges, such as excessive barking, growling, fighting with other dogs or child aggression. Many dogs have fear issues, such as anxiety or separation anxiety; they may chew and destroy household items, or run away. Robert also works with dogs that are relied upon to protect. Owners who rely on their dogs to guard them know that there’s a fine line between a dog that will alert them to danger and stand their ground, and an aggressive dog that doesn’t understand the difference. It’s imperative that the training be professional and effective.
After two weeks of intensive instruction, the dog returns home for two days to practice with their owner, including a home reinforcement visit from the trainer. They then return to Robert where the training continues for another two weeks. Robert recommends two consecutive months for optimal results.
The Puppy Training Program is similarly an intensive one-month training schedule, where the puppy learns obedience training, including heeling and walking properly on a leash, sit/stay, down/stay, place, recall training (come to owner), and crate training. The puppy returns to his or her owner after two weeks, where the training is reinforced with a visit from the trainer, and then returns to training for two more weeks. Robert recommends two consecutive months of training to secure that the puppy and owner feel confident in the training.
At school, both puppies and adult dogs have daily lessons, outdoor workouts in the big, fenced field with plenty of room to frolic and play. Lessons include field trips where they encounter noise, vehicles, people, and other animals.
Both adult and puppy training monthly programs include:
- 1 Bath per month
- Nails trimmed
- Grooming + ant-flea spray
- Oral anti-parasite
- Training treats throughout training days
- 1 free reinforcement trainer visit
- Free advice and counseling for 2 months following training
In addition, Robert offers a two-week “Ladies and Gentlemen Camp”:
Adult dogs may simply need to work on a specific issue, or to learn or re-learn the basics: sit/stay, down/stay, place, walking properly on a leash and other essential commands.
Dogs are highly social animals, and isolated from other dogs may become fearful or anxious around strange dogs in the street. If you’re living in an apartment, and don’t have a place to let your dog run naturally, then Robert’s Play-Day is perfect for your pet. Here’s your opportunity to allow your dog to play and run with other dogs in a supervised 500 sq. meters field. You choose the days of the week, and transportation to and from Cuenca to the facility is included. Your dog returns home happier and calm.
Board your dog with confidence with Robert and Alejandra. Dogs are treated as one of the family, whether it’s for hours, days, weeks, or even months. Should you have to travel away from home, be sure your doggie is safe, well cared for, and healthy. Do you have two dogs? Your second dog enjoys a 50% discount! There is limited space, so reserve your spot today.
Robert is planning the first Agility Seminar for dogs and owners in Cuenca September 3-4, Saturday and Sunday. This two-day intensive seminar/training promises to be interactive, instructive and loads of fun — it’s the ultimate positive bonding experience for you and your dog. Exercises will focus on dexterity and mobility, and will serve to enhance your dog’s body awareness and to build up self-confidence. No prior experience is required, and an experienced instructor/show judge will teach the seminar. As Robert says, agility competition is an addictive sport! And it’s never been held before in Cuenca, so don’t miss this unique opportunity. Cost: $180 + I.V.A. covers both days for you and your dog. Spectators are invited to attend.
For more information and to register click here.
Dog Obedience School
Association of Professional Dog Trainers. https://apdt.com/trainer-search/details.aspx?slne=26096
MentalFloss.com. 10 Benefits of Being a Dog Owner. http://mentalfloss.com/article/51153/10-benefits-being-dog-owner
Modern Dog Magazine. What Your Dog Really Wants. http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/what-your-dog-really-wants/31472
National Geographic. Domestic Dog. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/domestic-dog/