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My Terrible Trio have grown into really big dogs, and they have become really smart, except that there is absolutely no discipline whatsoever. This, of course, is my fault. I know I should  been much more strict with them while they were still of a manageable size, but it is never too late.
Their escapades are legion, but it is the damages that they cause which are really unacceptable. They chewed my new two month old mobile, totally mangling it and it was a total loss. They chewed my brand new iPad Air eating through the cover and causing damages to the screen.

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I have lost count of the number of slippers they ate, but the half boot practically brand new which they ate still rankles. They have also gone through miles of paper kitchen towels, toilet rolls and tissue boxes.They have eaten three sofas, one of which was Aubusson, two tables and nibbled the legs of numerous chairs. They ruined several articles of clothing for me and ate a woolen pullover belonging to one of the gardeners. They have made one water dispenser their own and can now open the refrigerator at will so the kitchen door has to remain closed.

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Living this way has become very difficult as every time I leave the house I don’t know what damages I will find on coming back. But the worst part has been the behavior of Helen, and later Troy emulating her in beating up on Petra. My poor Petra is a big submissive, so that her behavior in immediately giving up and falling on her back and starting to scream encourages the savagery in the rest of the dogs to attack. Even Frisky gets excited and starts barking up a storm and nipping at whatever part of her he could reach. This behavior is very disturbing for me, and must be corrected so as not to spread to the rest of the dogs. Thus I took the decision to call in professional help in the form of a trainer.

On Facebook I got to know about a dog trainer whose videos showed that he knows what he is doing, so I contacted him and we finally managed to coordinate our times so he could come give all three a full course of training that lasts 10 weeks.

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We started a couple of weeks ago, and I discovered that he is training not only the dogs but me as well. Rather I get more training than the dogs. It seems I am doing so many things wrong I inadvertently encourage bad behavior. I am now very grateful I had decided to bring him in to help all of us.
I dearly love my dogs and am very affectionate and demonstrative all the time, which turned out to be completely wrong! This way they cannot differentiate between the norm and when they do something right and need to be encouraged. So the most difficult thing I had to and deliberately train myself to do is to be less affectionate and less demonstrative. Now miracle of miracles! They started settling down and have become less hyper and excited. They have not stopped jumping up on me yet, but now that I discourage that behavior it is becoming less.

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Another part of the training is taking them for walks. When their trainer comes he stays three hours, one for each dog. The hour is divided into twenty minute segments. The first twenty minutes we take the dog for a walk outside. If the dog is too hyper, he takes them for a jog. This latter I just watch, but I go with them on their walk. This is pretty brisk and by the time we are done I am exhausted, but really good exercise for me.

Next for twenty minutes he tries to modify their behavior through using two tools: a clicker and treats. By sounding the clicker every time the dog does what is required of him then immediately following it with a treat, the dog eventually gets the message that this is good behavior that gets rewarded. The clicking sound marks in the dog’s mind the actual action that is approved. When repeated enough times, the dog catches on. The last twenty minutes I am the one doing the training while the trainer is giving me directions how to train the dog. By the time we are done with training the three dogs I am exhausted.

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The pity is that I have been so busy I have not been able to train them during the week. But even without that their behavior has modified somewhat and though the attacks on Petra have not subsided, yet they have become less in frequency, though still just as vicious.
Every Wednesday afternoon I have three hours of training and am exhausted by the end of the day. The good thing though is that the dogs are exhausted too, so we usually have a very peaceful evening and night every Wednesday.

4 March 2015

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