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Dog Training Tips

"Establishing Leadership is about guiding our dogs to be followers- not in the sense of dominating them- but of relieving them of any responsibility to control their world. This makes for a happy and balanced dog."

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The Benjamin Story

Benjamin is the reason I am a dog trainer today. I rescued him from a backyard in Oakland in 2001. A Higher Power pushed me to enter that backyard that day and unchain him. We ran for our lives and never looked back. He was emaciated with scars all over his body. He had no food, water, or shelter. My vet who first examined him said he was going to die soon. It was a case of horrible neglect. I channeled the rage I had against his owners to tend to his emotional and physical wounds. He was so vulnerable and weak that my heart opened wide to give him the comfort he so desperately needed.

For the next 3 months, he gained weight, his scars healed, and his spirit grew strong. I took him everywhere, he seemed to like everyone. I thought it would be easy to find him a home. Sure enough, a single woman adopted him.

He was returned nine days later. He had had 2 dog fights. The woman was frightened and overwhelmed.

His aggression escalated quickly. It started with intact male dogs, then to all dogs, then to human men, then to all people, finally to trucks and cars, and mostly anything that moved. My anxiety grew and grew and my world got smaller and smaller.

The next 2 years I tried everything, from flower essences, special healing massage, T-Touch, medication, desensitiization, and even a low protein diet. Nothing improved, and Benjamin's aggression was ruling my life.

My last option came when my dad said I could move to his remote land in Oregon, I flew up there to check it out. I remember crying on the property, knowing this is not where I wanted to be, but how was I to live in an urban environment with a big aggressive Rottweiler?. And then Alon Geva came into our lives. He was a renowned Bay area dog trainer who had a way of guiding that not only changed my life with my dog, but also led me to my spiritual path.

I learned that I needed to HOLD THE GROUND for Benjamin. I needed to become centered and grounded, and in doing so, I would convey to him that I was his leader. I came to see that I had my own inner healing to do so that I could be there for my confused and anxious dog, I came to see that dog training was also about addressing my own fears and emotional blocks.

For the next 6 months, I guided Benjamin by giving a non emotional correction for aggressive behavior and praise and reward for quick response and positive behavior. I learned how to demand from him, but be relaxed and without an agenda. I learned how to build Benjamin’s focus on me as a foundamental way to open him up surrender.

Benjamin learned to look to me to make all decisions, and in the process- he became relaxed and happy. He didn't have the weight of responsibility anymore of being the Alpha dog. I was able to show him that I was here for him- to be his protector and guide.. He did not need to carry this weight. But the only way I could shoulder this responsibility was by looking inward and questioning my limiting beliefs.

I learned that HOLDING THE GROUND meaning responding, rather than reacting. If I am in reaction, I am overemotional and judgemental, this would in turn, make Benjamin confused or anxious. If I am responding, I am acting out of clarity, and in turn, Benjamin relaxes and looks to me for guidance.

Benjamin goes everywhere with me now, to parties, cafes, banks and training classes. He is my right hand man. HOLDING THE GROUND for him has made this once abused and neglected backyard dog into a sound, confident and loving creature. He was looking for guidance and I gave it to him when I learned how to be the his loving leader. Our journey has taught me so much about what it means to be his guardian. It comes down to 3 things-



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