My dog is crazy. He sniffs butts, chews laundry, and anything I throw he brings back (even garbage). These are a few of my favorite things about dogs.
However, nobody likes barking, pulling, jumping on grandmothers, or peeing on the coffee table. Time to call the Dog Whisperer.
Brant Jow was born in San Jose, California and came to Taiwan in 2003. I contacted him and asked if he might bring along a previous client so we could fake some photos.
“No,” he said, “Let’s go to People’s Park on Sunday. I don’t mind approaching someone who is having dog problems and offering help. You can watch what we do.”
Not having met him, I asked, “Don’t you want a little more control and predictability over the animal?”
“No. Almost any dog with almost any problem, give me 15 minutes and I can largely fix it. There are a few owners who take longer to fix, but don’t worry about me and the dog.”
We met on Sunday morning and quickly spotted a Border Collie who liked to pull his owner around, changing directions often and unpredictably. She also liked jumping on strangers and didn’t respond when people called her by name (Ling). Brant said,” Here we go.”
He introduced himself, presented a business card and asked if he could work with the dog for 15 minutes. The owners kissed him and offered food, but he was working for free today.
There are basically three training methods, Brant later explains: treat training, prey drive training, and formal training. Brant favors formal training where you simply show the dog what you want her to do, although he goes one step further and also tells the dog in both Chinese and English. He can resort to other methods when needed. I saw some photos where he was working with a police attack dog, and tiny little apartment dogs.
First he had to get Ling’s attention. Using a different leash, Brant walked and ran at various speeds, changing direction often and surprising the collie. Within seconds the dog was not looking around for a hapless grandmother to jump on. She was carefully watching where Brant would go next and following. Brant was making clicking tongue sounds, using large obvious body language, and constantly talking to the dog.
Within a few minutes, the dog was holding a sit/stay command. Within 10 minutes Brant was able to back away from the dog several steps and the dog held the sit/stay with no leash. Fifteen minutes later, he returned Ling to the owners and they politely asked if he worked with children too!
He went on to work with a Schnauzer who loved to pull at his leash, and an Australian Shepherd who was afraid of strangers. In both cases, 15 minutes later and the problem was solved.
I returned to the question of “training” the owners, and that’s a big part of what needs to be done. The Schnauzer for example walked calmly and perfectly beside Brant. When returned to his owner, the dog actually looked up and pulled a bit. When the owner agreed to move in that direction the dog knew he was back in the saddle!
Simply put, it seems that once a dog knows what makes his owner happy it will try damn hard to do it. We often give the wrong message to dogs. If he jumps up don’t pet him, if he pulls you in the wrong direction, don’t go. Make sure he pays attention to you and not grandmothers, babies, and the dog crotches he will encounter when walking in the park. Brant is happy to provide free consultations in Taichung. Give him a call – he won’t bite!
INFO: Taiwan’s Dog Whisperer