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 ARTICLES > TTouch > Danilo: The Dog That Brought TTouch To South Africa
  TTouch  Article:
Article By: Eugenie Chopin       

DANILO’S STORY by his person, Eugenie Chopin

I’m not quite sure as I begin, how I’m going to write this story. As I begin to think about it, I immediately start to get emotional! How is that possible after all of these years? Almost 13 years ago, (now in 2002) I went to the Sandton SPCA looking for a new puppy. What I found was a four-month-old pup that had been found on the street. A pointer cross who wasn’t particularly cute, but who had something that spoke to me. I took him home and our life began together.

When I look back I can see and understand all of the things that I did wrong. However in 1990, I knew almost nothing about dogs except that I loved them! Danilo (named from the operetta “The Merry Widow” that I was singing in at the time) was meant to be an outdoor dog who was going to live in a doghouse in the front drive. We had had some trouble with thieves jumping over the wall and stealing radios etc. out of cars. I didn’t expect him to actually guard cars, but to simply let us know when someone was there.

At the time, I had 3 other dogs living in the house and I can now imagine how confused he must have been that he wasn’t allowed to live inside as well! He was a rescue dog and needed to feel secure in his home and this certainly didn’t help. Fortunately after 6 months when I went overseas, my domestic Sophie, who has a soft heart, let him in and by the time I returned, there wasn’t any possibility of putting him out again!

By the time Danilo was a year old, he had truly terrorized my other dogs. A rawhide was something so precious that he would go for any dog in the vicinity. Even today, I don’t give rawhides as treats as it brings up old stuff for him. I called in an expert trainer and we started working with Danilo. We started by throwing those pop crackers on the floor if he went for the other dogs. Well, Danilo could have cared less, but the noise terrified my other dogs even more! The idea was to set him up so that he could be caught in the act and then giving him an appropriate –horrible- punishment to deter him.

Today I understand this to be abusive and not a very good idea, but back then; I had a problem and was ready to do anything to help my dog, even though it didn’t feel very good. I was a typical owner who had a big problem and trusted the experts to tell me how to fix it. I would like to say that the trainer I used was very good and knew what he was doing according to what I now believe to be outdated training techniques. Most of the great dog trainers in the world today started exactly the same way, as it was the method they had been taught. However, today we know so much more! And there are many “cross-over” trainers out there who once used harsh training modalities who have found that there are more humane and effective methods.

It wasn’t long before Danilo began biting people as well as terrorizing my other animals. We taught him to “down stay” so well that I could go off for a half hour and come back, having forgotten the poor dog was in “stay” mode and he would still be there! However, he was staying because the consequences of getting up were so unpleasant. In other words, he learned to do things out of fear rather than co-operation. As a result, even though with training he became better behaved, he still bit people! He was a classic fear biter.

Then from punishing and yelling at my dog, I found a dog psychologist who told me to ignore him! I did all sorts of things for months! I won’t bore you with the details. So now I had learned many things about dogs and mine in particular from both trainer and a couple of behaviourists. Some of it helped and some of it didn’t. But my dog still bit people! The reality was that I hadn’t dealt with his insecurity. I kept hearing that he needed a man to handle him or that he was too dominant. I now know that he just needed clear instruction and communication from me and to know exactly what his place and job was in the home. The more violence we used with him, the more violent he became. I now know that many people make this mistake. The fact that he is such a loving dog today is due to his wonderful basic nature. He never seemed to hold any of my mistakes against me!

After several years someone in the States told me about TTouch and after my first training we have never looked back! I had finally found something that felt right to me! I had found a training technique that was based on respect. I neither had to punish nor ignore my dog. I was ecstatic!

One of the many things going on at home was that my oldest dog, Musetta wouldn’t come for walks in the garden with us any more or even come to the bedroom for our early morning gathering because she was so intimidated by Danilo. Within 2 days of coming home after my fires TTouch training and applying just the touches, Musetta was back in the family and Danilo was much more relaxed! Well we have never looked back. It was a long road of TTouches, body wraps and ground work, but today there are many people who find it hard to believe the stories I tell about Danilo! I won’t tell you that he is perfect and when I take him out, I do use a Halti. It is almost impossible to change the basic nature of a dog, but we can certainly help them be more balanced, adjusted and confident in most circumstances.

Numerous experts told me that I would never be able to get a new puppy with Danilo, but I have now had Angelique for 8 years and Shanti is almost a year and a half. He has loved playing with both of them. Now that he’s getting older, I’ve tried to help him understand that he doesn’t have to protect everyone and everything! He is enjoying old age, but still wants to play like a puppy on occasion. Isn’t this one of the reasons we are so enamored with dogs? TTouch techniques played a big part in his transformation, but more importantly, TTouch philosophy and ideas about how to interact and communicate with him were instrumental in changing me, and my attitude about animals. I am eternally grateful to Linda Tellington Jones and the TTouch team who helped me become a better person as well as teaching me how to work in a positive and productive way with my dog. Danilo is truly my Best Friend!

© 2006 TTouch - eugenie@ttouch.co.za.   All Rights Reserved.