Dialogue, Not Dominance, Wins Over Dogs - And Saves Their Lives, Too
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


SBH Clay
November 2005

Part 8 - Here’s another success story in the June 2005 newsletter
as told by a Colorado resident and proud owner of Mikey, a dog who had lived for eight years being terrified of people. Dialogue rescued him from death row by teaching him to trust:

I went to Buena Vista to learn Dialogue with much skepticism.  An old geezer like me who has had dogs all his life has been exposed to many different modes of obedience training -- classes at vets and pet stores, books, videos, etc. Thought I had seen it all. Many of us know what love and patience can do for an abused, fearful, high-anxiety dog. A good example is my dog Mikey, 125 pounds of pure love and some high-anxiety, fearful behaviors that many people would see as vicious. Everyone who has been around us these last 3-1/2 years has talked about how far he's come. And yes, he is much better with the people he has come to know well. But what happens in Buena Vista and what we learn to do at home goes beyond love and patience; it is dog therapy. 

Before Dialogue, any stranger that came near Mikey risked being bitten, so I would have to control the situation by maintaining an iron grip on the leash or by shutting him away. And no one, not even relatives and close friends, could approach his truck without him reacting in what most people would call a vicious manner. He would growl, snarl, bark ferociously, and hit the windows. Talking with anyone was done at a safe distance from the truck. I heard about Judy Moore’s Dialogue and headed for Buena Vista for the two-day class. Sure enough, when Judy came out to greet us, Mikey did his "inside the truck thing."

After some preliminary class work, we headed to the barn for Judy to work with the dogs. It took perhaps a full minute for me to realize why we were there, for that was about how long it took for Judy to "charm" Mikey with Dialogue. Very shortly, I had a lump in my throat (the first of several in those two days) and was close to tears of joy for Mikey: he was trusting a stranger! The next morning we pulled into Wapiti Run and parked. Another student, a complete stranger to Mikey, was approaching the truck. I was just about to put the iron grip on Mikey or shut the door, but instead I began saying "You're okay. Everything's all right, etc…” Mikey did not launch into his typical frenzy. Indeed he just stuck his nose out and acted interested instead of fearful. Then this student did the unthinkable. She extended her hand out to the dogs (I had three in the truck). I was ready to rush her to the hospital for treatment of a serious dog bite inflicted by Mikey. Instead, I almost needed treatment for shock -- Mikey did not try to bite her. He sniffed her hand and allowed her to scratch his snout.

Later, on this second day of training, you were doing "sit-stay" with Mikey. Poor Mikey, with his serious case of separation anxiety, was having some difficulties. He didn't want you to walk away. I heard you say, "You can do this."  A big smile came back from Mikey, and the look in his eye said, "This lady believes in me, and now I believe in me, too." He stayed. The second day was coming to a close, and we were done, or so I thought. Then you said, "One more thing." Mikey was to sit beside me while two men, both complete strangers to Mikey, were going to circle around us and then pet him. I instinctively shortened up the leash and tightened up on his collar -- the only way I knew to avoid bloodshed. You told me to relax and praise. The men circled, they petted, Mikey smiled. I drove home with tears of joy running down my cheeks.

Mikey is a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Pyrenees

People!  If you have an emotionally stable dog and just need some basic obedience training, Dialogue is the way to go. If you have a dog with emotional and behavioral problems, Dialogue is incredible therapy. I went to Buena Vista with a lot of specific behavior problems that I was hoping to find a fix for.  None of those problems was addressed specifically. But many of those problems have subsided drastically in less than a week's time. The progress in the last week for Mikey has been equal to or greater than the last 3-1/2 years. And as for me, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders, and a wave of relief came over me when I realized that I was no longer Alpha, leader of the pack, controller of the treats and by necessity stronger on my end of the leash. I had been the recipient of a wonderful promotion: I am now an interpreter. I am happier. All three of my dogs are happier. Thank you, Judy. 

Go on to Part 9 - In the September 2005 issue, three Denver women wrote:
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