I purchased Karma from a farm in Wisconsin, when she was three months old. I struggled with Karma’s bad behavior for seven years before I began obedience training her. Our relationship was stressful. I made many excuses for her behavior. Whenever she would become aggressive while barking and pulling me down the street toward another dog, I would say things like, “She’s friendly. She just wants to play.” She was scary and embarrassing. I felt like her name was ironic. Maybe Karma really IS a bitch?
She chewed rooms of furniture, my clothing, and excavated my trash regularly, but I refused to crate train her. During a routine veterinary visit, I recall sobbing uncontrollably at Karma’s veterinarian suggestion that I crate train Karma to help with both potty training and her incessant chewing. I responded by saying “Karma is my baby though! You’d never put your baby in a crate! That’s absurd.”
As Karma would excitedly pull me down the street, my arm would ache and I would press the button down on her retractable leash giving her more freedom to “be a free spirit and roam around.” I wanted to treat her as if I would want to be treated if I were a dog. Although, I always felt tentative about turning the corner in my neighborhood because I knew Karma would likely encounter other dogs, small animals, and people before I would. Corners scared me. I had little faith in her ability to make good choices. Her instinct to chase after squirrels, joggers, bicyclists, and skateboarders, could send her into a barking, and jumping fit that would grab the entire neighborhood’s attention. Understandably, I frequently avoided walking her.
I started training Karma with food and lots of excitement. She loved interacting with me and getting all excited. I enjoyed watching her jump through hula hoops in my backyard. In about a week she could not only jump through the hula hoops, she could also “sit”, “lay down”, and “come” as long as I had food in my hand. If food was not involved, she would quickly realize it and lose interest in training with me, opting instead to chew on furniture, or rummage through my trash as if she had lost an important document. I was exhausted. Karma was making my life a living Hell and I recognized I needed help. I wanted more from our relationship. I wanted my hands to not smell of dog treats.
I began reading about different methods of dog training and slowly implemented a training plan of my own creation. Tailored to fit our issues. I stopped feeling sorry for Karma, and stopped making excuses for her behavior. I started expecting a certain amount of calm behavior out of her and corrected her when she would act out. I used the word “No” along with other balanced training tools. No food. No high pitched voice. No retractable leash. No hula hoops. We began regular structured walks together. “Heeling” Karma became a healing for both of us. Instead of pure terror and stress, we became two gals sauntering down the street together. A harmonious connection was made and maintained. Today, Karma is eleven-years-old and works with me as a calming force on pack walks to help my client's dogs through behavioral issues. Not only is she is a pleasure to work with, she is also a loved and valued member of my own pack.
Can you relate to my excuses, my embarrassment, and my failed training methods? My former struggle might be quite similar to the issues you are currently having with your dog. I want you to know there is hope! Not only can I relate, I waited until Karma was an adult dog before I implemented any training program with her. Age does NOT matter. Calm, consistent, reinforcement of a structured walk, and obedience commands will allow you to live a more harmonious life with your dog. I can teach you how to implement my highly effective balanced training plan. If your goal is to train a calm family dog, I am the trainer for you!
Update: Karma passed away peacefully, at the ripe old age of fourteen and a half, in January of 2015. She was suffering from complications of lung cancer and was subsequently humanely euthanized at her veterinarian's office. She lived a good long life, and together we learned a lifetime of lessons from each other. She will forever be in my heart, and thoughts.
On February 9, 2014 Good Karma Training added a new pack member! This is Bollywood, a suspected ten-month-old golden retriever mix. My husband and I answered a Craigslist ad which indicated he was a five-month-old puppy. When we met with the current owners Bollywood (formerly known as "Lucky") was dragging the young man down the street. The man explained he had just started a new job and with his college classes becoming more demanding, and an impending move, he was no longer able to provide the dog with an active home.
We decided to name our new furry family member "Bollywood" for two reasons. The first reason is that as a child, my best friend owned a dog named Hollywood. He was some kind of a golden pitbull mix, and a genuinely wonderful companion. Hollywood seemed to love spending every moment with children, being silly catching his tennis ball, and playing in the kiddie pool with us. I thought of Hollywood the instant I saw the Craigslist ad. The second reason for Bollywood's name is that Bollywood is GRAND, and dynamic...and after seeing this dog as a seventy-five pound "puppy" boldly drag his owner down the block and pounce his enormous paws onto his owner's Subaru, I thought Bollywood was quite fitting. He has quite the personality, and I am so happy to provide him with a loving structured home. Soon he will be able to join me to client homes and provide support as a friendly socialization dog.
I am truly blessed to have such a great career where I can spend hours on end with my furry companions while improving my client's lives with their dogs.
Just before Christmas of 2015, Miss Cricket the Australian Shepherd puppy, was welcomed by Good Karma Training, at just eight-weeks-old. She was bred by an amazingly scrupulous Minnesota breeder. Cricket is gregarious, obedient, vigilant, and intelligent. I have missed the Aussie energy in my home and I honestly feel, she is the perfect addition to my family, and training coworkers. For daily posts about both Miss Cricket, and my Golden Lab, Bollywood, please check Good Karma Training on both Facebook, and Instagram. Below is a video of our training progress: