Being involved in the green industry for the better part of my life, it was always a dream of mine to own a dog with strong hunting instincts that loves being outdoors as much as I do. Ziggy is an English Setter-Pointer mix that we rescued at 6 weeks old. It was clear from the beginning that he had incredible drive and instinct to chase anything that moves, which is great for defending sports turf from the inevitable byproduct of geese nesting on fields.
We also learned quickly that his drive and instinct were overpowering the line of communication between us. His attention was rarely, if at all, on myself or Meghan and I would be lucky to get a glance in an open setting never mind an acknowledgment of something as simple as his name. He was terrible on the leash and I felt that every day he was on the verge of chaos. After a few regretful mistakes on my end, our only option for him to release his energy was a small dog park that kept his focus for about 10 minutes until he wanted out. It became a frustrating and tireless process for both of us as he continued to grow and mature. I knew if I was going to give him the life he deserved something was going to have to change.
Being familiar with working dogs and his breed in particular, before we even brought him home I was well aware that the e-collar was going to be a necessary tool for his training. What I failed to understand was the level of which I was capable of doing on my own. Because I was unable to even establish a line of communication between us, I didn’t even put the collar on him without professional guidance. At this point I reached out to Kathleen and the folks at Atlantic K9 due to their reputation with E-Collar training.
Ziggy isn’t the type of dog that would benefit from your typical “good boy” dog training and exercise routine. He NEEDED to work. He needed to smell, to chase, and to hunt and not to sit and stay and walk around the neighborhood. I didn’t want to coach his instinct out of him; I wanted him to know there’s a time and place to work but I need to be in control of that. Upon starting my first lesson with Kathleen at her location in Boxford, the first words out of her mouth just watching him move were, “Oh yeah. He is all work.” I knew right away she understood what we needed to do and the work that was required to get there. Dog’s are not a carbon copy. The best dog trainers (such as Kathleen) need to be versatile and adaptive to every dog. She immediately understood all of my concerns of his behavior and gave me clear and concise initial directions on how to establish a line of communication with the E-Collar.
I could write for days about the progress and work between the 3 sessions but to put it simply- I was willing to put in the time and effort and did what Kathleen told me to do. She answered every question I asked with incredible detail and structure. I will never forget maybe a day or two after the second session I brought him to the biggest open field I could find. We walked side by side for about 15 minutes, which would have previously been him dragging me on an all out sprint for 5 minutes. I stopped, he stopped and sat down and kinda looked up at me out of the corner of his eye. I unclipped the leash, he was as still as a statue in a sit (as pictured) so I gave him the release command. He ran off about 50 yards, stopped dead in his tracks and looked back at me as if to say “Hey man, are we good? Can I keep going?” I just let him gallop through the field for about 10 minutes in complete awe before calling him back. He is a very busy and happy dog now, flushing geese from the fields at Merrimack College and North Andover High followed by 1.5-hour treks through the woods. I am forever grateful for Kathleen and Atlantic K9’s guidance and allowing me to share my story!