my name is Eric Pliner and I train dogs in the Denver area. I have put together a few thoughts below regarding my philosophies about working with dogs and some commonly asked questions. I hope this gives you a little glimpse of my love and dedication to working with dogs and their owners. Whether it is just you and your dog or your entire family, there is no greater feeling than having a well balanced "pack." Everyone has a role and a place in their "pack" and it's important to understand yours.
How did you get started training dogs?
I have always been a dog person. My mother often jokes that the first words out of my mouth were "bow-wow " and not "mama". So I guess you could say I was born to work with dogs. Deciding to start training dogs kind'a just happened organically. I was having dinner on a restaurant patio with my dog Lola and a friend when a young couple approached us and mentioned how well behaved my bulldog was and that they wished their bulldog would be that calm. I offered to help them and that was the beginning. Since then I've been able to help quite a few dogs and their owners learn to communicate and build that special bond between them.
What are some of the challenges of being a dog trainer?
My greatest challenge I believe is to educate dog owners on how dogs think. Many times people try to use human psychology on their dog. That's when behavior issues start. Dogs think in a pack mentality. It's their instinct. To a dog, the pack will always come first. What's really cool to watch during the first session is when the owner starts to understand this philosphy and begins to communicate with their dog. It's as if a light switch comes on and all the sudden the owner is excited and can't believe their dog is listening and being a "good" dog. The truth is the dog has always been a good dog it's just the owner didn't understand how to communicate with the dog.
Is there such a thing as a dog that cannot be trained?
My belief is that almost any dog can be trained if they are in decent health. Of course there may be an exception but my belief is that given the right amount of time and patience, and practice, most dogs can be trained if the owner is willing to put in the work.
Can you explain the "Pack Leader " approach?
The pack leader approach has been around for a long time. The "pack" is a group that lives together. That could be a group of wolves, dogs, or even dogs/ cats/chickens/humans all living together in the eyes of your dog. As with any group there needs to be a leader, someone that looks out for the good/survival of the pack. This is called the "dominant" one. Not dominant in a negative way but more like the one who takes on the responsibility so the other pack memebers don't have to worry. The other pack memebers are called the "submissive" ones and are then able to contribute in their own way to the pack without being the boss. If the pack leader doesn't do his/her job or perhaps dies then another dog will step up to take it's place. This is the rule of the pack. The pack always comes first! As far as training goes, all humans are considered to be "pack leaders". By applying this philosophy your dog will begin to understand it's role in the pack and thereby starts to relax because it's job is not to be the boss. All your dog has to do is be a member of the pack. It takes the weight off it's shoulders. It allows a dog to be a dog.
How do I become a "Pack Leader"?
It all starts with the walk. Teaching the dog to walk with you in a certain way begins to build trust and respect and at the same time exercises the dog's body and mind. This draining of excess energy helps to relax the dog and gets it to a balanced state. There are many other things to learn to be a 'pack leader" but first it must START WITH THE WALK! Your dog needs exercise and as the leader you must provide this daily. Part of being a good leader is realizing that all the needs of the pack are filled. All dogs are different and require different amounts of exercise, be sure to choose a dog that fits with your energy level.
How many sessions will it take to train my dog?
Every dog learns at a different rate and a lot depends on the diligence of the owner when it comes to practicing what I teach them to do inbetween sessions. For the most part I recommend going to 1 class a week for about 4-6 weeks. Then following up with a reminder group class once a month for about 3 months. This gives the owner time to work with the dog and also gives me a chance to help the owner practice their skills so they are more effective.