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Owners of doggie boot camp draftee learn new tricks

Now is the time for New Year’s resolutions. There are the old stand-bys of losing weight, getting in better shape, quitting smoking or drinking, or getting out of debt. I’ve even heard of a list of resolutions of do nots rather than do’s.
However, my resolution has little to do with me and everything to do with the snoring lump almost always by my side. No, not my husband, Dan, but adorable, lovable, snuggable Chunk, our English bulldog.
Chunk, with his face that only a mother could love, is, honestly, out of control.
I know English bulldogs are lazy and stubborn, by nature, but Chunk also has been given the rule of our house since day one. We’ve done our best to make him manageable, meaning he knows how to relieve himself outside rather than in, and he can follow sit, lay down and roll over commands. He can even dance, if you ask him nicely and provide proof of an impending treat.
But for anyone other than either me or Dan, Chunk is more interested in jumping, running and bowling people over than being in a state of calm-submissiveness. But we’re going to be striving to achieve that goal this year, in part because the opposite is so destructive.
He’s chewed up several pairs of shoes, books and nearly anything he can get his mouth around. He’s 60 pounds of pure muscle and, on a leash, it’s like playing tug-of-war with an elephant rather than a dog.
So, we have been watching episodes of ‘Cesar Millan: The Dog Whisperer’ on National Geographic channel. Cesar’s techniques are more about training us, though, and it’s been tough.
We can’t greet Chunk when we get home right away. His greetings are too eager, too energetic and he’s been known to knock us over before we get in the door, so we’re not talking to him or petting him until he’s over the crazy reaction to our return.
We can’t let him run wild on the leash anymore. Trying to tame the elephant within, I guess.
We can’t let him run headlong into his food bowl at the first ‘clank-clank’ of kibble. He’s supposed to wait, at a respectable distance, while we feed and water him, before he partakes.
And what’s most important, we can only give him physical affection when he’s in a calm-submissive state. If you know Chunk, you’d know he hasn’t been in a calm-submissive state since pretty much birth and I doubt that was calm.
Supposedly, this is all going to retrain his brain to be less frenetic and more mellow, which will make him a happier, more manageable dog and, of course, our lives a little easier.
We’ll see. Two days into doggie boot camp and I can’t tell much of a difference. He’s definitely calmer, but I just hope he keeps his excited wiggle, what we call the prance, at least. No matter what, I know I’m not going to lose my couch cuddler or my big protector and that’s what counts. And who knows, I may just keep my balance. Bring on calm submission!

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