Owners find joy through holistic dog training

Published 10:04 am Monday, December 12, 2011

Pat Thorne, of K9 Joy Holistic Dog Training, with her two adopted pets. (photo submitted)

Barbara Buffington staunchly believes in holistic dog training after an exhausting effort to calm her 11-year-old daschund’s anxiety.
“It’s a miracle and I’m not teasing you,” Buffington said of her experience with Pat Thorne and K9 Joy Holistic Dog Training.
Buffington’s dog, Mac, had been crate trained since he was a puppy. But for one reason or another, he developed separation anxiety last year.
Buffington had taken Mac to Bonnie Brae Animal Hospital where she said Dr. Angel Mitchell had tried medication for the dog’s problems. Unfortunately, this did not work.
The only thing that kept Mac calm was Buffington being with him 24/7. Dr. Mitchell eventually suggested three different dog trainers, including Thorne.
“When we choose to cohabitate with dogs in our human world, we owe it to them to work with their nature and respect their innate instinct as dogs rather than seeing them as human beings in a dog’s body,” Thorne said. “Only then will we be able to convey a sense of trust, structure and safety that they will always respond to in a favorable way.”
Thorne said she focuses on teaching a family and their dog as a whole, rather than singling out the dog’s behavior. This is not obedience training, but an entire lifestyle change between human and dog, she said.
Buffington said she was willing to try anything, as things had gotten so bad she had considered putting Mac to sleep.
“We tried for six months and it was torture – every time I would put my dog in the crate it was like torture for him,” she said.
Buffington said Mac would defecate in the crate every day. He would scratch repetitively against the crate floor, which caused his paws to bleed.
Thorne decided to try one final thing. This time Thorne came over with a playpen to place Mac and Buffington’s other two dogs in while Buffington was gone during the day.
After leaving the home for 30 minutes, Buffington and Thorne came back to hear no barking as they pulled into the driveway.
“I have my dog back,” Buffington said. “Pat is just wonderful and she never gave up.”
Thorne said the success she has had in training dogs comes from a focus on dogs’ natural pack instincts.
Thorne said in a wolf pack, the leader or alpha wolf is the sole decision maker and the survival of the pack depends on the willingness of each member to fulfill their role. Being direct descendants of wolves, dogs still possess a deep-rooted pack instinct, she added.
Thorne relies on teaching her clients four key areas in which their dogs look to them for leadership. Those include food, who is providing it; the walk, who is leading the walk or hunt; perceived danger, who protects the pack; and status, is the owner capable of leading the pack.
“Almost all behavioral issues come from confusion your dog has about what their job is,” Thorne said. “Most of the time we unknowingly send messages through our behavior towards our dog that tells them they, not we, are the leader.”
Thorne said learning to master these four main areas will save a dog owner time, money and convenience.
For more information, contact K9 Joy Holistic Dog Training at 859-6573.

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