Dog Man of Los Angeles
The average South Los Angeles home (formerly known as South Central LA) has one, if not two or more dogs. Typically, the dogs stay in the yard, are not walked and lead altogether boring and frustrating lives. Most residents without dogs in South LA have a strong fear of dogs, which is in part due to a history of violent LAPD attack dogs. The combination is just short of unbearable.
Dog Man, a native Angelino, has not only noticed the problem but is actively bringing about a solution. For the past 6 years, he has dedicated over 700 hours to providing free obedience training for dogs. On any given Sunday, between 25 to 50 dogs and their owners will gather around the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 9am to wait for Dog Man to arrive.
The Initial Understanding and Mindset:
New dogs go through an easy exam in general cooperation. Dog Man also takes time to ensure the owners know how to properly hold a leash, walk with their dog and give treats while walking. He also tells new folks that in order to get your dog to act right, you have to be the leader. This mindset must be maintained in order to control and train your dog.
The Take Away:
Dog Man wants everyone to leave with certain take away thoughts. #1 Love your dog. #2 Train your dog daily. #3 Vaccinate and license your dog. In LA, all dogs must be licensed and that license must be renewed annually. #4 His genuine appreciation for people who rescue dogs. Over-population of Chihuahuas in LA results in an outstanding number of euthanized dogs per year. Add that to the number of pit bulls taken from dogfights, and the number becomes heartbreaking.
From the classes I have learned that no dog is untrainable (it’s a word now). The truth is dogs need repetition, patience, consistency and a caring owner. Each Sunday all of the dogs go through the same training and agility course. The course ends with a run/jog tiring the dog and the owner. It is a well disguised bonding experience for an owner and their dog. Over time the improvements become evident, but the proper work has to be done at home.
The time in between classes is arguably more important than the class itself. It should be spent reminding your dog of what they learned; that they are going on a walk with you and not vice verse. Reinforcing their memory of good actions with treats and praising is a must. Also remind yourself that punishment is not the answer, but correction and positive reinforcement is. Daily activities with your dog are training opportunities and an energy outlet. Use them wisely.
My experience is that one person can change a neighborhood. I moved to my neighborhood in February of 2012. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone was suspicious and afraid of my dog Malcolm and no one walked their dogs. Without fail, I walk my dog in the morning and when I get home from work. Over the course of this year, people have begun venturing out and walking their dogs. My neighbors now know Malcolm, comment on his appearance and ask about him when I am alone. In all honestly the fear and hesitation is still there, but it is a lot better than whispers behind screen doors. Additionally, I have developed a trust with my dog I didn’t think I would have without Dog Man. Now I can leave the front door open and Malcolm won’t take off and I can trust him with children – amazing! He also protects me and our home. So, much love and appreciation to you, Dog Man.
For more information about Dog Man, check out his Facebook page!
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