The answer is in 2 world-renowned words: Cesar Millan! And you either love him or hate him. Personally I love the man, and I am in awe of how easily and naturally is respected by any dog around him. Indy, well I am not sure he’d be in awe, but rather he would know who the pack leader is in the room.
I’m not the best person to talk about Cesar’s successful training methods, just because I’m not the most assertive of handlers with my Indy. But with me it’s a case of ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say’.
The reality is that Cesar would be horrified to hear how spoilt my Indy is. But in one of Cesar’s first books, “Cesar’s Way”, I remember reading you can set up whichever rules and limitations you want with your dog, whatever they may be, so long as then you carry them through and remain pack leader enough to enable your dog to respect them.
I have always liked Cesar’s approach, and remember watching his first few TV series of “Dog Whisperer” on NatGeo channel, wondering how he managed to bring angry and frustrated dogs into submission in the most natural of ways. Well, it turns out that Cesar can convert to pack leadership even the most desperate cases of discipline-lacking dog handlers such as myself – with his full Mastering Leadership Series, where he tackles leadership training during all types of difficult situations, or situations that your dog may struggle with.
Cesar’s Way is a philosophy, it is not at all about bullying your dog. In fact it is all about teaching him/her to be a good dog, in order for your dog to be a happier and better socialised hound. You would do, and probably have done the same with your children, by teaching them good manners so they could be better adults later in life. With your dog it is the same – you love them, hence you want them to be happy, hence you want them to be better behaved.
For instance, yes admittedly I may be ever so slightly bias, but I do believe my Indy is practically a perfect dog. If it weren’t of course for that small matter of being sometimes naughty to other dogs, particularly non-neutered males, on 0ne-to-one walk encounters. Well, Cesar advises – and I believe it wholly – that if a principle of fight takes place, you should break it up by conveying firmly your energy to the feistiest of the dogs by pulling them up, not back, or by de-focusing the same dog with a firm nudge. You should also never shout at the situation, or else you risk fuelling up the negative energy of the situation.
In fairness, I have not seen many episodes that Cesar has dedicated to Border Terriers, or the terrier category for all that matters. My husband reckons the reason is that Borders are independent hence require extra effort; on the other hand, I say the reason is because Borders are just perfect! Then again, I might be ever so slightly bias.
That is exactly where we went wrong when we tried to adopt Olive and introduced her to Indy a few months ago. They were alright together, and Indy welcomed her in his territory until she tried to play with his toys. He didn’t like to share and tried to take the toys from her, she being stronger and younger (albeit neutered and a bitch) did not like his not allowing her to play and went for his neck which she grabbed in a firm bite. I believe we failed by punishing her, by shouting in fear she may have injured our Indy, and by not forgiving her. As responsible dog owners what in fact we should have done is taking more time with them, and being more patient into not allowing them to misbehave with each other.
Indy came out totally fine out of this experience, unscathed both physically and emotionally. But had we sought after Cesar’s help, by now Indy would probably have a nice companion by his side and us a nice addition to the family.