I unknowingly picked out a very active and aggressive puppy. Kona had an incredible drive for food, hunting “prey”, and playing rough. His eyes had a kind of frantic glaze; it seemed he couldn’t calm down enough to connect with me.
I took him to a PetSmart puppy class on the very day he was old enough to go. He weighed about four pounds, but was in a class with big breed puppies who were quite a bit older than he was. The classes were us humans listening and watching a few examples of how to train the basics, while really everyone was watching their dogs and wondering if they were going to hurt each other. After four classes, I asked the trainer if she thought Kona was a little too aggressive. The trainer rolled her eyes and kind of grimaced at me. I didn’t go to the fifth class.
At home, Kona was jumping up on people and play-biting just as if we were puppies also. One day, he jumped up and bit a friend’s lip. Between that and my experiences at PetSmart, I was at my wit’s end. I found Steve’s website and chose his three-lesson package.
He came to my home and in one hour I had a much better picture of Kona’s true temperament. He wasn’t really aggressive or mean, just very playful and rambunctious. Steve gave me about four PetSmart lessons rolled into one for us to practice during the first week. His lessons are 100% hands-on with the dog, while the pet store classes were mostly listening and practicing at home. He demonstrated his techniques over and over, then had me try them until I understood. My intense puppy and I really needed those one-on-one demonstrations and full-lesson focus.
I also had Steve help us with Kona’s fellow housedog, who is one year older. They have different personalities, and we were concerned about their interactions. Steve observed them at play two times and his evaluations and suggestions were extremely helpful – he saw the subtle behavior signals that told him our dogs were relating to each other appropriately.
I wouldn’t have gotten through the first six months owning this puppy without Steve! He has experience and a wealth of training methods that enable him to evaluate what approach will work best with each dog. The internet is full of horror stories of dogs with strong drives being mishandled. Kona was a real challenge, and I shudder to think what might have happened if I had called a less-knowledgeable trainer.