Older animals teach puppies how to behave
Twenty-five dogs - of all different sizes, ages and temperaments - in one room together can easily spell chaos.
But if the owners of those dogs know how to communicate with them - and the dogs can communicate with younger puppies - all signs of barking, growling and disorder quickly disappear.
Just ask Pat Muller, owner of Quansa Kennels in South Beloit and a dog trainer for more than 30 years.
“You'll notice there are a number of different breeds out here,” Muller said during a training session Saturday. “I look at dogs as a corporation. Your working dogs are like security, toy dogs are your secretaries and terriers are like executives. We teach that people are in charge of dogs, and the dogs are a well-run company. So now we have a well-run bunch of crazy dogs, and that's no different than having a bunch of kids.”
That's one of the key points behind Muller's world-renowned training. Puppies must learn the same manners as children do from their parents. Although puppies are imprinted with certain knowledge, they must be taught how to put that knowledge to use. The way to do that is for humans to show their adult dogs how to behave, so those adults can show the puppies.
Muller began teaching a litter of 8-week-old Lakeland terrier puppies Saturday, first by showing them where they fit in within the “company” of dogs.
“All of these dogs are learning that they're a part of this, but they're not in charge - they're responsible to the people,” Muller explained. “When puppies see the adult dog - the pack leader - as respectful, they automatically respect the owner.”
Although the sweet-faced bundles of joy might remind most of cuddly teddy bears, they're not - and both breeders and trainers are quick to emphasize that the key to raising Lakeland terriers, and any dogs, properly is understanding what they're bred to do.
“They come from the Lake District of Scotland and Great Britain, where there's a very harsh climate and rough terrain,” breeder Nancy Kiss, of Alberta, Canada, explained. “These dogs have to do work on their own. They're bred to hunt fox and vermin. They can kill if they have to. In the wild, if they don't catch on quickly, they're left behind.”
Therefore, when Lakeland terriers hear a baby crying or a young child whimpering, they often associate those sounds with a small animal that needs to be put out of its misery. It can be a dangerous situation, breeder Lynn McCain, of Michigan, said, unless the dogs are trained to think otherwise.
“It's just instinct - they kill. You just have to train the dog to respect the baby or child as a valuable member of your household, and the dogs don't take it out on them,” McCain said.
McCain has been bringing her Lakeland terriers to Muller for years, and she now has dogs that are champions in dog shows and participate in dog therapy and scent tracking, which she credits in part to Muller.
“I don't know anybody in the world who trains dogs as well as Pat does,” Kiss agreed. “She's able to analyze a dog and pinpoint the root problem of a behavior, and once she's dealt with that problem, everything else falls into place.”
Muller said it takes a responsible breeder to recognize the value of training. While many families buy puppies simply to have a cute, cuddly creature around, she urges current and potential dog owners to really think about what kind of dog they're buying and why.
“Love is doing what it takes for an animal to succeed,” Muller said, explaining that too many pet owners have a self-indulgent love for their pets, allowing them to get away with anything. “It's so important to know the breeds (of dogs). By knowing that, you can predict how the dog thinks and how to train it. It's important that we teach communication, and that's why I do what I do.”
Muller offers kid-friendly, family-oriented training in individual and group sessions at Quansa Kennels, 3822 Penn Road. She also does seminars for churches and other organizations. For more information, call Pat Muller at (815)389-3754, or visit www.quansaqcollar.com.
If you have any doubts about whether or not your pet needs training, Muller advises asking yourself this question: “If you treated your boss like your dog treats you, would you still have a job tomorrow?”