Home Schooling for the Dogs

Lake Geneva Regional News
March 17, 2005
Written By: Lisa Seiser

After years of putting up with poorly behaving dogs, resident Joie Coleson was ready for a change.
For years, the Coleson's two dogs have taken their toll on the family and managed to run the house.
That changed recently when Coleson summoned the help of Jackie Reuning, a home dog trainer.
About two hours of training both Coleson and the two dogs, Princess and Corky, the dogs no longer control the household.

Normally, Reuning said about 90 percent of dogs she comes in contact with can be trained pretty well within the first two to three hours. Reuning and her husband, Tim, spend their time working with dogs and owners on how to properly train the animals.

Reuning said the most important aspect to training a dog is to make sure it knows who is the boss and who is supposed to dominate.

To reach that point, Reuning said the owner must communicate with the dogs at a level they can understand.

According to Reuning, just like children, dogs want structure and rules.

Coleson said many of the problems that she has had with her two dogs include jumping on guests at the house, not coming when called, laying and sitting on tables and the couches, and going to the bathroom in the house. Reuning said the main method to solve most of the problems is to recreate the hierarchy of the house.

It didn't take long for Coleson to show her dogs who was boss. Reuning said there is active training and passive training. However, neither method involves physicality with the animals.

The training process, rather, involves a bag stuffed with a chain and an ability to growl by the owner.

One of the most important aspects of training is body language and height.

The training bags are used for a similar reason usually earlier in the training process.

Reuning said the use of the voice is important both while correcting and praising a dog.

Reuning said different voices are used for correcting and praising. Lighter tones are used when praising, and normal tones are used to command and the growl is used to correct a behavior.
Reuning also helped Coleson with information about nutrition for the dogs as well as other tips.
Reuning, who owns Bark Busters, was a social worker for 10 years before she eventually turned her attention to training dogs.
As a social worker in Waukesha County, Reuning performed in-home counseling of families and teenagers.
Reuning said it is not uncommon to save the relationship between the family and the dog.

While the Coleson family wasn't ready to do that, Joie said she had enough of the two dogs acting the way they were. That is what prompted to the call to Reuning. But the training is not close to being over.

Reuning said the in-home training can be much more successful because the trainer and the dog are dealing with specific problems that occur in the house.


Reprinted with permission from Lake Geneva Regional News 04-19-05