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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DuPage's Own "Dog Whisperer"

Today I found out that my dogs are geniuses!
I've been worried about Clover and Lily for a while. Clover is a six-year-old maltipoo, and Lily is one of the eight maltipoo-ratterrier-chihuahua puppies she gave birth to way back last Mother's Day. They are sweet dogs, but not very well-behaved! They run out into the street and chase joggers and bicyclers, bark incessantly at anyone who enters, leaves, walks past, or runs through the house (there are four kids between the ages of 3 and 14 who live here, and two more teenaged relatives living down the street, plus all of their collective friends, so yes... people do run through our house quite a lot!) They both sneakily go to the bathroom in certain parts of the house, they fight like cats and dogs even though they are both dogs, they snatch food, and they chew stuff up around the house.
I wanted to find a way to train Clover and Lily... but in a chaotic house, it was hard to find a way to do it on my own! So I put out the word to dog trainers in DuPage, describing the problems I was having with my dogs... particularly Lily, the puppy, who has a reputation around the house for being the naughty one.
Luckily, Jennifer Tribolet, a dog trainer who lives in Lombard, answered my call!
This afternoon Jennifer came over to meet with the dogs and me, plus Monkeyboy, Little Bear and Pufferfish. We were out in the front lawn waiting for her when she got here, and as she got out of the car Clover charged at her, barking, so she got to see right away an example of what lay ahead of her!
Jennifer lost no time in taking charge. She looped leashes around the dogs and took them for a walk. At first Clover and Lily balked, yanking at their leashes to get away from her, and Clover tried to attack Lily as they walked. (Clover is always suddenly deciding she needs to kill Lily, when I take them for walks, which is why I usually walk them separately.) Jennifer only took them to the end of the street and back, but by the time she returned, both dogs were walking calmly, side by side!
When I was first trying to figure out how to train the dogs, I read lots of books about dog training, but I was never sure how to implement the ideas on my own. It was helpful to see a professional do it in real life! I was amazed at how quickly the dogs learned. It was as if they were eager to show us how smart they were. Like, all that time, they had just been waiting for someone to come along and train them!
My case was probably particularly difficult for Jennifer because of the chaos around the house. In the short time that she was with us, one of the teenagers came over, left, came back again and picked up Monkeyboy; Pufferfish had a tantrum and ran inside; and Jimmy came home from work. But she kept the dogs calm and cool, and taught us how to do the same! In that short amount of time, she also worked with us on getting the dogs to take food or treats only when they hear a signal from us instead of just snatching them, and on getting them to calm down when they were freaking out. She pointed out the reasons why they might be acting up in each situation, and showed us how important it was to make the dogs feel safe by remaining calm and taking charge.
I had been a little worried about meeting with a dog trainer because I thought it would be a little bit like "Super Nanny." I thought she would come, meet the dogs, and then scold me firmly about what a horrible dog owner I had been and how I was doing so many ridiculous things wrong. But Jennifer was nothing like that! She was very positive, explaining mistakes that many people make with dogs. I felt perfectly comfortable talking with her... and thats not an easy thing for me, since I'm easily unnerved by people!
After Jennifer left, I felt inspired to do more work with the dogs. I was determined to get these dogs to be happy, well-behaved members of the household! So after dinner, Little Bear and I took the dogs for another walk around the block. (Jennifer says that, when dogs get plenty of exercise and are worn out, they're in a great state of mind for learning.) Then, I worked a little on training the dogs to stay out of Jimmy and Diana's bedroom, where they have a tendency to poop on the bed. It worked great!
I am going to keep on working with Lily and Clover every day, and take them for at least two walks each day as well! (That will be a lot easier to do now that I don't have to walk them separately!) Once we've tackled walking as a "pack", taking treats nicely, and refraining from pooping in Diana and Jimmy's bed, though, we definitely need to work on not barking at the door, and staying in the yard!
So, if you are looking for a dog trainer, either for a new puppy, an adult dog you've adopted, or a dog you've had for a while but who needs to work on his manners, this is my recommendation! Call Jennifer Tribolet at (630) 383-9736, or email her at You'll be glad you did! (She also offers grooming, pet massage, and pet sitting!)


Chris said... [Reply to comment]

While we don't have a dog, I remember going with my mom to a dog obedience class with our dog growing up. We went to only one class, because the trainer hit our dog very hard on the nose, and that was enough for us! It's great you found someone that was willing to come to the house. I'll be sure to recommend her to anyone I know who is having a hard time with their dogs.

Nicki said... [Reply to comment]

@Chris Somepone hit your dog? How rude! Jennifer follows Cesar Milan's dog training methods... you know, the real Dog Whisperer from Animal Planet. So she'd never hit a dog on the nose!

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