PERTH - Cesar Millan may mean well when it comes to dog behaviour, but TV training may not be best for your dog.
“It is confusing for people,” said Candice O’Connell, chair of Responsible Dog Owners of Canada, at the grand opening of Pet Intel. Behaviour Centre at Dufferin Square in Perth on Sunday, Jan. 13, of the star of the TV show, The Dog Whisperer. “Cesar Millan has a wonderful personality and a wonderful understanding of dogs. Cesar has brought a lot of awareness to the restrictive breeds because there is a lot of myths around that… (but) I’m not sure that the techniques he demonstrates are appropriate for the average dog owner. You really need an interaction. You really need training,” that is hands-on.
For O’Connell, that is where Pet Intel and owner Jessica O’Neill’s approach comes in.
“I support and advocate Jessica’s type of training technique,” said O’Connell. “The more (training) we have, the better it will be.”
O’Connell’s organization advocates the Canadian Good Canine Citizen (CGCC) training method, which is taught at O’Neill’s school, and which also offers at six-week preparation course to get ready to sit, stay, roll over and take the CGCC test.
“We saw a much larger need for dog owners in training their dogs,” said O’Connell, who added that just because a dog has passed CGCC training, it does not mean that all is well.
“It gives us an indication that they can be trusted to go out into society,” said O’Connell. “(But) there are stressors. There’s no guarantee, especially with dogs.”
Stress, like a child yanking a dog’s tail, can provoke anger and biting, something else the school seeks to address with its bite prevention program. Dog Intel also plans to visit local schools to teach children the correct, and safest, way to approach an unfamiliar dog.
“When it comes to dogs, it’s all about body languages, making sure you don’t rush a dog,” said O’Connell.
Kristina Bowes, one of O’Neill’s best friends, leads the Thursday afternoon playgroup for dogs which, for her, is just as much about puppy play time as it is social time for dog owners.
“There are not any good dog parks around and on days like today, there isn’t anything to do with your dog outside,” said Bowes. “It’s like a playgroup. You exchange tips like crating techniques.”
Bowes has three dogs of her own and she used to have to drive to the Pet Smart in Kanata to take part in puppy classes. Now, she can simply drive up to Dufferin Square for those classes, as well as doggie day care, group training classes, private training, behaviour assessments, dog walking, boarding and playgroups.
O’Neill helped hammer out the adoption program at the Lanark Animal Welfare Society (LAWS), and also worked on behaviour assessment for LAWS, working on behaviour plans for dogs that had been taken in to get them properly assessed, and adopted. She is an active member of the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers and has a diploma in Canine Behaviour Science and Technology.