Balto was a sled dog that saved the small town of Nome, Alaska from a diphtheria outbreak.
After facing blizzards, freezing temperatures and near death, Balto became an overnight hero. Balto and his sled dog team went on a tour of the United States. A statue of Balto was erected in New York’s Central Park.
A 30 minute movie was made about Balto’s race to Nome. Balto was a movie star, but like a lot of Hollywood stars, his fame was short lived.
Two years later Balto and his companions were on display at a “dime” museum where they were ill and mistreated.
Thankfully, a Cleveland businessman by the name of George Kimble discovered the dogs. He knew the famous story of Balto and was outraged at seeing this degradation. A deal was struck to buy the dogs for $ 2,000 and bring them to Cleveland – but Kimble had only two weeks to raise the sum. The race to save Balto was on!
A Balto fund was established and radio and newspapers started reporting on what had happened to Balto and how money was being raised to help Balto.
The response was explosive.
School children collected coins, factory workers passed hats, and businesses pitched in and helped raise money. The Western Reserve Kennel Club donated a healthy sum, and within 10 days $ 2000 was raised and Balto was brought to Cleveland.
On March 19, 1927, Balto and six companions were brought to Cleveland and an estimated 15,000 people showed up to see the heroic dogs.
The dogs were taken to the Cleveland zoo were they lived out their lives.
Balto died on March 14, 1933, at the age of 11. The husky’s body was mounted at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where it has been kept as a reminder of the gallant race against death.
Stories like Balto’s have helped shape how I train dogs. Another strong influence has been James Herriot. I think that all dog trainers should be required to read his books.
Training should enhance the relationship between dogs and humans. Many times the training methods used have adverse effects. I train using a lot of positive methods, but I also understand that if you want to stop a behavior, punishment can be very effective.
Here was an email that I just received about barking.
“Dear Eric, my dog barks when someone knocks on my door. I don’t mind a little barking but I would like him to stop when I say quiet. How can I teach him this? Any help would be great. Thanks, Miguel.”
Here is my answer.
When ever you are trying to teach your dog something you have to make sure there are consequences for the behavior. So, if you want your dog to sit, down, stay, etc you should use a positive consequence.
When you want your dog to stop doing a behavior – barking, begging, jumping, etc you get the best results by using some type of negative consequence.
Most people think that the only type of negative consequence is something painful like a shock collar, prong collar or choke collar, or they think that we have to grab and shake our dogs, alpha rollovers, and all that stuff.
A negative consequence does not have to be any of that. I have effectively used breath spray for years to teach dogs the word “Quiet.”
You see, when your dog starts barking we get upset and start saying “Quiet.” The dog barks some more we say “Quiet” again and the dog keeps barking. In order for your dog to learn the word it has to be paired with a negative consequence.
So, with a little bottle of breath spray I stand next to the dog as he starts barking. But now when the dog starts barking I say “Quiet” and then reach down and I spray the dog in the mouth.
I have now paired the word “Quiet” with the breath spray. This is how you can use a negative consequence without inflicting pain on your dog.
Dealing with problem behavior can also be managed. If your dog does behaviors that you don’t like you can always take some simple steps to deal with the behavior. A lot of dogs like to get into the garbage. A simple way to deal with that behavior problem is to simply put a lid on the garbage.
Eric Letendre the author of The Amazing Dog Training Man invites you to visit http://www.amazingdogtrainingman.com for leading edge dog training tips, instructional video clips and articles that will help you train and understand your dog. You can also get free dog training updates with a free Smart Dog Newsletter subscription, available at http://www.amazingdogtrainingman.com
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