How a Dog Trainer Trained Me

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He looks like a cross between Bob Marley and Jesus Christ, this sort of “dog whisperer” of San Juan Capistrano that my neighbor had been raving about, complete with dreadlocks and this total kumbaya mellow vibe. “You gotta check out this dog trainer!” they would chorus, as they watched my daily dog-walking struggle with my over-exuberant dog-puppy. “Okay, okay, I’ll check it out,” I muttered vaguely, having finally reached the end of my leash.

Beginning the class, I was very nervous and stressed out, convinced the whole thing would be an exercise in futility. My dog would never change. We would be forever locked in this push-pull the leash relationship, a never-ending tug-of-war. I became resentful of all the stress this dog was causing in my life. I began avoiding my usual dog-walk path so as not to be embarrassed in front of my neighbors.

Week after week after class I would feel nothing had changed, we were a hopeless case. Then we began attending the Dog Pack Walks, where everybody walks a different dog, not their own. “Wait a minute! He never acts like that with me,” I thought, staring in disbelief at my usually very badly behaved dog walking just fine with that other person.

It was then I had an epiphany…

Maybe I was the problem, not my dog. Maybe, just maybe, if I listened, really listened to the trainer, when he suggested that maybe it was me and not my dog that needed to change. Maybe it was me that needed training.

We were practicing the “stay” and I had to drop the leash and walk away. I was absolutely terrified, convinced my dog would run away. But when the trainer took my hand, and said “don’t worry, it will be okay” and it was! It was just like the Bob Marley song, “Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing’s gonna be alright.”

Thanks Ryan, you rock!


Suzi Scallon, Laguna Beach


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