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Alpha Boarding School for Dogs Testimonials - Janet and Ron

Attitude is Everything
(A story of Jackson)

The Family

Meet Mac: 9y.o mild mannered German Shepherd, loyal guardian of the family; the true protector.

Meet Jemma: 2y.o gold roan Cocker Spaniel, wouldn't harm a butterfly, always smiling, lives for cuddles, fun & games.

Meet Jackson: 2y.o black and white Cocker Spaniel, litter brother to Jemma, loves his family with a jealous passion, has top dog attitude, anti social and will not share affection.

The History

Mac has been in the family since a puppy, attended obedience classes, always eager to please, very sociable and can be handled in any situation.

Jemma and Jackson have always been together, sleep together, as puppies and adults are great play mates. As puppies, both appeared to have great outgoing natures with no problems.

An attempt to take them to obedience classes was made and found to be very difficult as they were a major distraction to each other.The instructors insisted more force should be used with the choker chains and we separated them into different groups. No matter how far away they always looked for each other and no matter how much force was put into the choker chain, it made no difference and continuation would result in injury to Jemma and Jackson, not to mention our poor old arms. Some dogs adapt to choker chains well but it was not working for us.

After several attempts we gave up and thought maybe it would be alright as our previous Cockers had beautiful natures and so we assumed they would be the same as they were bred with top show kennels and would not cause too many problems.

The Problem

As they grew up, Jackson showed a jealousy towards his sister and Mac when he, or they received any attention from us. It started with a mild growl from Jackson; he would get told off and made to share and we thought he would grow out of it.

"How wrong could we be!"

He did not respond to any form of pressure no matter how hard and it was becoming upsetting for us to have to treat him this way. He never attacked his sister but constantly went for Mac. Mac would not fight back and would get sent away to sit down as we knew he would behave, so we could attend to Jackson. After a while, Mac also became sick of the attacks and missing out on the fun so he started to growl back. Now we have a massive problem as this was an unfair match and the blood would always end up all over Jackson.

Walking was at night or morning to avoid confrontation with any strange dogs; this surely would be worse again. Walking was not easy anyway. I would take Mac as he was trained, but the other two would pull at the chokers and be all over the place with excitement.

Naturally Jackson was disliked by all and the only remarks were "You'll have to get rid of him, one way or another" Of course his attitude would cause him to be mistreated by others and the alternative I just could not think about. We were frustrated at what to do, he had to learn to fit in and be sociable. I could not even go into my own back garden without an eruption and they knew it. It was out of hand!!!

The Last Straw

"You've done it this time you little horror" I yelled.

This time he had attacked his sister. We pulled them apart and she sat there with blood running down her little face as we held Jackson back, his own lip punctured by his canine tooth. He was in such a rage, he did not know or care. We tied him up and attended Jemma, a huge hole opened up her nose and we only hoped it hadn't damaged her nasal passages.

It was Sunday, terrific! My vet could not be contacted. I rang the animal hospital who advised I go to the Blackburn Vet Clinic which happened to be open. It was close to closing and luckily they stayed back, and Dr Andrew was able to repair Jemma's nose without permanent damage.

I sat and spoke about Jackson and asked his advice. With confidence he recommended Alpha Dog Training, who specialise in behavioural problems. I thought "Great, my dog needs a shrink", but if it could work, I was excited.

The School

I rang Greg from Alpha. His response was 'No problem, I can fix him. He needs obedience to make him understand he cannot behave like this, and that you are the boss.' At present Jackson thinks he is. I explained how we had tried obedience and he then explained the different methods he used.

For the first time I had received in one day a positive response and I felt then, I was not the only one and this had been fixed before. I was confident that I did not have a hopeless case dog that was beyond help. I must admit that I was very skeptical that this person, not knowing Jackson, felt he had all the answers. Greg recommended a full two week boarding school course and off Jackson went the next day. I took him along as I wanted to see and know exactly where he was staying, like any caring Mum. I was impressed with the boarding school and Jackson went without a problem.

I drove away with all fingers crossed for success, but in the back of my mind thought 'I'll believe this when I see it'.

I'm sure I drove Greg crazy over the next two weeks ringing every second day, the first call with hesitation, waiting to hear that the worst, but the opposite happened. Greg was very pleased and the report was full steam ahead.

By now I was really excited and instantly thought, to make life easier, maybe Jemma should go and we can all communicate on the same level. So off she went exactly one week later.

The Judgment Day

Time was up and Jackson was coming home. I couldn't wait! 4.30 came - he's home. I opened the front door and saw a well mannered Jackson healing by Greg's side, sat nicely when Greg stopped and stayed until we went outside for my training. If he wasn't so distinctively marked in colour, I'd almost have thought it was another dog, but it was Jackson alright and what a sight for sore eyes!

I could not believe it, how such a change could happen so quickly. Now I had to learn their new simple technique that worked so well. I took the lead and it happened so easily. He did everything so well for me.

The bonus - his spirit had not been broken. I was worried that he would lose his personality through discipline, but with this method he was having the time of his life. He had learnt my language and we were having fun at last.

The Halti

Praise this simple apparatus! It's comfortable, it corrects, it's easy to use, it's kind, it's 100% control! This is definitely the way to start; as he matures, with this knowledge he can go without the halti altogether..

The Test

As Jemma was at school, it was only Jackson and Mac at home. Although he was totally social at school, I had to be convinced that the same would happen at home with the past relationship these two boys had formed.

I called Mac over. He was tentative and probably putting out bad vibes anyway, then a tiny growl from Jackson. As soon as this happened Greg was able to correct him immediately using the halti, to prevent any further confrontation.

'You beauty!!!' I thought 'A solution'. He soon learnt that bad attitude does not pay! This way he finally understood just what was expected from him, and he was smart after all!

The New Routine

Now it was up to me to progress with it, everyday at any time with Mac and Jackson. It was essential normal behaviour included these new commands. The Alpha way is simple and easy to adopt into everyday life as it is a normal way of communication.

From here on when Jackson saw his halti he sat to attention - he loved it - he knew it meant more time with us, fun, games, outings - he had a new life and he liked it - he was proud of himself - he was admired.

We went for a follow up visit with Dr Andrew who was very interested in Jackson's progress. The reception area, people coming and going and here is Jackson, dropped in the centre of the room waiting. I walked away and he stayed perfect, and the comments now became amusing.

"What a good dog, isn't he clever"

"I wish my dog could behave like that"

"I wish my cat could behave like that"

I chuckled and thought to myself, if you only knew him just a few weeks ago and I looked at him and smiled, he looked back at me as if to say "Don't tell 'em Mum, don't spoil my thunder, this is the new me" so I thought, they probably wouldn't believe me anyway, and he was receiving all the pats in the world and still did not break his command. He lapped it up and so did I.

Here comes Dr Andrew, it's Jackson's turn and straight away he smiled. Jackson passed with flying colours and just to be on the safe side, gave him an MPA shot to help him and us see through the rest of his training.

The Second Go

Jemma is due back and can we be so lucky.

As Jemma is easy going, sometimes she does not listen and wants to run around in her own little world. Maybe this would be harder on her as she has not known discipline at all before as she had not needed to be told off at all.

Waiting for 4.30pm once again and here she comes, what a little lady, yes - it worked again - both understanding the same language and doing the same at once was unbelievable - such enormous reward for all of us. They were perfect and not once did we need food to encourage them. They were having fun and games. "What a perfect Christmas present!"

The Maintenance

Maintenance sounds like hard work but believe me, this is a pleasure and quality time.

We use the Alpha way of life without a second thought and once a week attend classes. The first class after the Christmas break was so much fun. A test with other dogs - no problem - they went straight into the Intermediate levels and with their enthusiasm and ours we are winning teams, I know it.

The first agility course, I did not even have to encourage Jackson. He would turn around and do it all over again by himself, he still likes to prove he's top dog but in a new way and he's proud, and we have a great family.

We are lucky, I hope others with a similar problem get the same opportunity, it's worth it.

The Family

Meet Mac: 9y.o mild mannered German Shepherd, loyal guardian, the true protector, WILL live to be a happy old man.

Meet Jemma: 2y.o Cocker Spaniel gold roan, the world is still really beautiful, live cuddles and IS having fun and games.

Meet the Graduate: Jackson

Attitude is Everything - We've all got one - It's how you use it

(written in appreciation to the Alpha Dog Training school)

Thankyou Greg - from Janet and Ron Fenech

Mac - Jemma - Jackson