Dog trainer helps relieve family load, teaches new tricks
VIDALIA — The decorative sign in Janee Watts’ kitchen begins to tell the story.
“A spoiled rotten pit bull lives here,” it reads.
That statement may always be true about Ghost, Watts’ 1-year-old dog, but thanks to a new local business, spoiled rotten doesn’t have to mean trouble.
“When we first got him, he was like our big baby — he slept with us and anything he would want, he would get,” Watts said as Ghost sat next to her eyeing a treat in her hand. “He just got so spoiled that he started chewing, tearing stuff up and digging up everywhere.”
The issues weren’t too bothersome at first, Watts said, but that changed when a baby — the human variety — joined the family.
“I just wanted to make sure I could have control of him with my daughter in the house,” Watts said. “Ghost is actually really good with her in the house, but sometimes he’s a little rough, and it’s a lot to handle.”
Cambree Theriot is 7 months old now, and Ghost is doing better thanks to Bayou Training.
Carlee Duncan, a certified trainer, started training dogs nearly three years ago and recently started Bayou Training to share her love of animals and passion for training them.
When Duncan first began working with Ghost in July, she said the pit bull showed some classic signs of an untrained dog.
“Ghost is kind of a rough dog, so he would jump up to try and see you and was just a little bit of a handful at times,” Duncan said. “But a lot of times, a bad dog is a smart dog.
“There were a few things (Watts) wanted to work on, and then we just kept going with different training.”
Apart from controlling some of Ghost’s problem behaviors, Watts also wanted Ghost to learn some simple tricks, such as shaking hands.
“That one was interesting, because Ghost didn’t like anyone to mess with his paws,” Duncan said. “So I had to come up with some different ways to get him to shake.”
Duncan said she put a sticky note on Ghost’s nose and force him to use his paw to remove it off his nose.
“After a while of that, he got over not liking his paws touched,” Duncan said. “The other tricks we’re teaching Ghost are meant to help (Watts) around the house.
“It’s his way of giving back and being a part of the family.”
Tricks such as opening and closing their door are helpful with a seven-month baby in the house, Watts said.
“It comes in handy if I’m walking in from the car and I have Cambree and have my hands full,” Watts said. “It’s a very big help.”
Ghost also learned to sit and stay for long periods of time on command.
“He’s gotten to where I can sit his food down, and I’ll say, ‘Wait,’” Duncan said. “I’ll go fiddle with Cambree or go outside and get groceries from the car, and he’ll still be sitting there until I say, ‘Eat.’”
Duncan said most training sessions she does take place every two weeks, but the owners are also expected to train their dogs on a daily basis.
“I give them a grading sheet with several different exercises we’ve been working on,” Duncan said. “They go through and give a grade on the exercise and that way I can see what we need to work on more.”
Duncan works on a variety of problem behaviors such as digging, barking, potty training, chewing, jumping, anxieties and walking on a leash, as well as obedience training.
All dogs can receive training, Duncan said, regardless of age, breed or size.
“The smaller dogs are sometimes the harder ones to train because a lot of times they are more worried about getting dirty by going outside so they don’t care about using the bathroom in the house,” Duncan said. “But the biggest thing people always say is that old dogs can’t learn new tricks, and that’s just not true.”
For more information on training, call Duncan at 318-719-5668 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.