Training Life Skills: Clarissa, Sam & Zoe

At K9 Pro we do a lot of work with competitor clients, these are clients that come to us to get help with problems they are having with their competition dogs or to learn how they can get more out of their dogs performance.

However, many of our consults are spent with pet owners who have training or behavioural problems with their dog and need help, often urgently, to address the problems they are experiencing and to make living with their dogs more enjoyable.

Some of the most common problems Steve will help owners fix with their dogs are basic life skills such as training loose leash walking, building a reliable recall, teaching the dog how to switch off and behave in the house and how to get the dog to engage with the owner. While these may seem like minor problems, they are things that often impact severely on our enjoyment of our dogs.

We recently had a client, Clarissa, travel from South Australia to see us for High Intensity Training with her two dogs, focusing specifically on training life skills. We wanted to share her story with our blog readers as we feel it is a case that will resonate with a lot of other dog owners.

Clarissa’s Story

Hi my name is Clarissa and I live in South Australia.  I have two dogs. Sam a Labrador that somehow had found himself at the RSPCA. He was re-homed and again re-homed at his forever home with me, Sam has been with me for one year. Zoe is a two year old golden retriever, with a princess status.

I had been attending my local obedience club here in South Australia and been getting great advice from so many different trainers with good intentions to help me with my dogs.  I was getting so much good advise that I was confused and that carried onto my dogs, I was not consistent and tired various different techniques, that just confused the three of us even more.

While at obedience training both dogs were well behaved would, heel, sit, stay  recall reliably…but once out of that environment, I had no hope as the dogs had so much value in everything other than me.

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Sam and Zoe

I struggled daily with their exercise, as both of them especially Zoe would constantly pull so walking the streets made me frustrated and looking for excuses not to walk the streets. Zoe would constantly dictate the walk, dragging me where she wanted to go. At times she would throw herself to the ground and refuse to go anywhere that was not to her liking. Sam would get a whiff of something and would near dislocate my shoulder to get there to inhale with gusto, he would not move until he had drawn in every last bit of scent,  promptly wee on it and scratch with great pride before trotting off with me dragging behind.

I would regularly bush walk with them as I found this much more relaxing and I could see the amount of enjoyment that both dogs had with all the wonderful smells and the thrill of chasing rabbits…. This is where I really got into trouble. I had ZERO recall, no amount of yelling out their names, pleading and waving around tasty treats was ever going to entice them to come to me, the kill joy who was going to leash them and drag them home. Both dogs would eventually come once exhausted, but would lay in the grass about ten meters away almost in protest.

I knew this was dangerous and needed to be stopped, I love my dogs too much to put them in danger, I just had to find an answer.

I had been doing constant internet searches trying to find some help. I felt that the only way I could raise my dogs was in a purely positive way. It was not working for us. I was in desperate need to find a balanced method that felt right. This is where I found Steve Courtney. I read all of K9 Pro’s website, watched clips from YouTube and it was like a light bulb moment. I just had to see Steve, I knew in my heart that this is the answer I was looking for.

I spoke with Bec and Alison from K9 Pro to arrange my training, they were lovely, extremely friendly and prompt with getting back to me. My trip was arranged! I was off to NSW.

I packed up the car and the dogs, took a massive breath and set off to Kurrajong NSW.  My family and friends thought I was crazy. They were saying ‘Cant you find someone closer’  ‘do you think it’s really worth it’  ‘it’s a long way just for dogs’  ‘ I hope you don’t think you can fix thing in a couple of days, don’t get your hopes up’ … I knew that in my heart of hearts I was doing the right thing.

I met Steve and immediately felt I was in the right place. Steve’s knowledge was over whelming, purely amazing.

Steve spent an extensive amount of time with me explaining the psychology behind the training.  Steve was informative, patient and passionate. He ensured that I understood, he had a wonderful way of explaining complex new ideas to me, it was very enlightening.

Two days with Steve was the most rewarding experience. He has a beautiful presence, you can feel his love and passion for dogs and there wellbeing, there should be more people in the world like Steve.

I left on my last day of training, heading back to my accommodation with so much, not only information and new skills but I left with an over whelming sense of joy and relief…

I’m embarrassed to say but as I was getting closer to the accommodation my eyes started to well up, I pulled over and started to cry   (Sam and Zoe must have thought I had lost the plot)   I was crying because I felt hope and a had a clear goal. Steve has empowered me to make the right choices and gave me tools to take back to South Australia.

I feel that Steve has improved the quality of our lives and the three of us are working hard to build a strong relationship. Steve I cannot thank you enough!

Steve says:

I love spending time with my dog Venom, he means the world to me and I try and take him everywhere I go. I have the license to take him with me as I spent a lot of time shaping his life skills when he was a puppy. I used “controlled exposure” over random socialisation play dates, I set energy levels to behaviours such as low levels of energy to things such as Loose Leash Walking, car transport and crate time, and super high drive levels and engagement to obedience and performance work.

This means he always is welcome to come places I can take him without letting me down.

Clarissa wasn’t aware of these advanced principles when I met her,  Sam for example already had these behaviours when she adopted him, but that doesn’t mean these dogs could not be trained to think and behave differently, in no time at all both her (very nice) dogs responded well to the programs and we all had fun playing my drive games to motivate and reward the recall and similar exercises.

In our updates I have seen videos of Clarissa training her dogs back in South Australia, you can’t not smile as her dogs recall to her with dog smiles blazing as they chase the food that has been conditioned with drive experience.

This lady knew she had a problem, knew she needed help and did not let anything (including distance) get in her way.


About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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One comment

  1. “He has a beautiful presence, you can feel his love and passion for dogs and there well being, there should be more people in the world like Steve.”

    Definitely my favourite quote 🙂 So very true.

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