Sacha, a four-month-old, papered GSD, came to me when my husband and I bought her from a breeder who incorrectly classified her as a family pet, with protective instincts and medium drive. She was not a family pet, but the exact type of dog we explained to the breeder we did not want: a high drive, relentless ball of aggressive, wild energy who never stopped moving /destroying except when locked in her crate. She would lunge at our faces and bite, the more she was pushed away, the harder she came back, biting and aggressive with her razor-sharp puppy teeth. Down, sit and stay became distant, unattainable obedience commands. I grew up with GSD’s, one a former police dog, and nothing in my experience prepared me for Sacha. Abject frustration pushed me to tears more than I care to admit. I knew I was doing something wrong; Sacha outsmarted me at every turn. The breeder was no help, and after reading probably every book published on dealing with difficult dogs, with no success, I was at the end of my leash.
Months of frustration passed. One evening, worn down and grabbing at straws, I walked into a pet store, grabbed a corrective collar and a few books and lined up to check out. I was called to another lane by a lovely blonde lady who looked at my books and collar and asked me why I needed these things. After explaining what I was dealing with and that I was out of ideas, Chaun told me to save my money, that she was a dog trainer and could help me. The heavens opened, golden light shone through the black clouds and hundreds of white robed dogs howled an angelic symphony. Sacha, a dominant dog, was desperately in need of a strong leader. Chaun’s reward based, positive-reinforcement focused training taught me to use my carriage, posture and voice. Sacha presented a challenge, even for an experienced trainer. Chaun’s methods gave me confidence and the tools to better understand my dog, spawning hope and the ability begin forging a relationship with this dog who I hated as much as I wanted to love. Chaun exemplified what a good “dog trainer” truly is. She trained me, the human, to be what my dog needed. My dog knew exactly what she was doing, she wasn’t the problem. I was the problem. I can’t and won’t recommend non-corrective methods for training and handling high-drive working dogs. However, I absolutely recommend Chaun’s training for K-9 handlers looking to develop the base line of a solid relationship with your dog. Chaun’s training provided a critical foundation and taught me to speak a language Sacha would understand.
Since high drive dogs need a job, we joined Volunteer Search and Rescue. Sacha passed her CGC (second time’s a charm), we were nationally certified in Human Remains Detection (wilderness, building and vehicle) and county certified in Area Wilderness Search (searching for live subjects). We travelled hundreds of miles together and spent hundreds of hours training and working. We went as far as San Luis Obispo, CA and worked with many respected individuals in the field of K-9 scent work. Though we have no confirmed finds in the field (many search dogs go their whole career without), Sacha was a valued and respected teammate to me and my peers in the K-9 SAR community. She remains a bullet proof dog, by far the smartest, most amazing dog I have ever known. Sacha is now five and a half years old. We served four years on the Kootenai County K-9 SAR team. Though we stepped down from SAR (under protest by Sacha) for reasons personal and human, I will be eternally grateful for Chaun and the critical role she played in our development as a dog and human team. Chaun saved my sanity and gave my dog a human she could be proud of.