Be kind, consistent when teaching your dog
May 17, 2013 10:24AM
Updated: June 20, 2013 6:40AM
Dear Readers: “Stay,” published by Scholastic press, is a true story written by Michaela Muntean, is a charming book about a man who finds a way to adopt, love and raise 10 shelter dogs. Sometimes a dog shows up when a person needs one most and sometimes a person will show up when a dog needs one most. What shelters hope for is the magic moment when a dog and a person find each other at a moment when they need each other more than either could ever imagine.
This magic is what happened for circus performer Luciano Anastasini. Anatasini was a circus acrobat when at a Chicago performance of the Big Apple Circus; he fell 50 feet from the high wire.
After this accident, he knew his days as a high wire performer were over. He was depressed and afraid that he would never see the glitter and flash of circus life or experience the wonder and awe of performing in front of a live audience ever again.
Then, one day he got an idea for a very unusual act. In this act, he would need many furry four-legged partners. Anastasini was excited and knew that if his idea worked, he would have a second chance. The term “second chance” stuck in his head so he decided to rescue dogs in shelters that no one wanted and give them a second chance too. He acquired five shelter dogs with challenges: Bowser stole food, Penny spun madly around in circles, Stick tipped over garbage cans, and Tyke had a bad attitude and did nothing he was asked while Cocoa tore up grass and flower beds.
Anastasini didn’t care, “They are perfect for me,” he thought so he took all five and began training them for an act by turning all their negative behavior into positive ones. Where previous owners saw headaches and problems, he saw hope and possibilities.
After many weeks together, there finally came a day when Anastasini felt he and the dogs knew and trusted one another. For nearly two years, Anastasini trained his unusual pack of performers and developed a first class funny, fast-paced act.
The audiences loved the act and through the years, new dogs have joined in.
After his accident, the dogs helped him put his life back together and he is grateful to each and every one of them.
“Dogs don’t care about yesterday; they don’t worry about tomorrow they live for now right now and I try to do the same,” said Anastasini in the book. “The most important thing to remember when teaching a dog anything, whether it’s to sit or to jump through a hoop is to be kind, consistent and patient. I use only positive reinforcement, lots of treats and lots of praise. Dogs by nature are happy animals and you should never do anything that would break their spirit.
If you have a dog, go spend some time playing with it right now…and please say hello to that dog from me.”