Who am I?
Part 1 – Tool is not equal to technique
Part 2 – Rules and boundaries
Part 3 – Relationship and trust
Relationship with the dog, but how?
What's up with the house leash?
Part 4 – Nature: What, when, how?
Part 5 – Rehabilitation or respecting nature
Part 6 - Social behavior affects the dog?
Part 7 - I'm talking about energy?
Part 8 - The dog is our mirror isn´t it?
Part 9 – Harmony from the beginning
Part 10 – Foray into the theory of learning
Part 11 - Practical implementation of the learning theory
The secure recall
Part 12 - Initial evaluation
Part 14 – Nutrition
Part 15 – Recipes
I would like to begin by thanking everyone who has pushed me to write this book, all those who have accompanied me over the years, all those whose words I mention in some examples, and all the trainers and mentors with whom I have had the honors to work with up to now, and with whom I could exchange experiences and be friends with.
My special thanks go to the hundreds of dogs that have made me what I am today. Whether your own dogs, foster or board dogs, dog students or the so-called camp visitors, which have all inspired me in their own special way. Of course, I do not want to forget the people and dogs who have participated in seminars, workshops, social groups and "pilgrimages with and for dogs". Thanks to every single person who has come into my life.
In recent years I have been asked again and again why I do not finally write a book. I asked myself the question, why should I write a book? There are already so many books on dog training, education, body language and much more. And, at the moment everyone seems to want to write a book. Do I really want to become part of that queue? But whilst I was reading a post from one of my students on one of the social networks, I thought, maybe it is time to write a book but a different type of book about dogs and dog training. Maybe even a book that goes much deeper, a book that teaches us to perceive ourselves, which allows people a new insight and that inspires us to finally become what we all want to be with our dog.
A strong, trusting and respecting team.
Please note in this context that this is not in any way a science or guidebook. On the contrary, you will receive recommendations from me about titles and authors of whom you might want to read further and, with which you can immerse yourself more intensely in the theory subject. I, on the other hand, would like to try to give you something tangible for living with your dog on everyday basis. Experiences, information and examples from and for everyday life.
For you to understand why I begin, how I begin, I would like to share the words of one of my students as mentioned earlier with you:
“I've had dogs for most of my life, and I've seen and attended many puppy classes and other obedience training sessions. But I never attended for long, I was bored, frustrated, dissatisfied and my dog seemed to feel the same. I also felt as if we were not really being taken seriously. I've tried many times to put into words why Petra´s training is so different. Working with her makes me wish I could win the lottery just to join dog training every day of the week or even become a dog trainer myself. Because it's not really about training the dog, it's about teaching people, like me, something. That is exactly what I started to understand in my work with Petra. Every day, bonding and living with my dog became a bit clearer, defined and logical for me. More than anything else, I felt I was being taken seriously every single day, no matter what difficulties or questions arose. That's what most other dog trainers had never done before. They had not taken the time for the owners, and they had mostly followed school book guidelines. I´m not saying that this is bad, but the individual facet was lacking, which resulted in frustration for me. I struggled somehow, but ultimately, I was never happy at the end of all. What was it that inspired and motivated me in training with Petra?
1. She works with each dog individually and yet in the group.
2. We as human beings are important and are taken seriously.
3. We humans are taught to understand our dogs and not just to train.
Best of all, it's such intense and heartfelt work that you suddenly have 50 new friends who have all experienced similar, have been or are going on the same path. And that's exactly why I want more, every day. Thanks to Petra, I understand that it is much more than just dog training. it's life changing."
I was flattered and happy to read these lines. But at the same time, it made me realize that there is apparently really too little education around for dog owners.
Who am I?
Petra Köhler, trainer,
IACP CDT PDTI,
Dog trainer / behavioral consultant
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Petra Köhler, I was born in Germany in 1977 and have lived in the USA and Spain for several years. These experiences have certainly influenced my approaches in the world of training. Different countries and thus different perspectives. The more open and flexible a person journeys through life, the more likely they are enabled to recognize situations, evaluate them and thus find the fitting path. In this case, tailored training approaches for dog and owner. I have always, in every single step of my life, tried to remain open and flexible. Today, from experience, all I can say is that there are many stones along the path, never a way to go back, but at the next crossroad, you can choose to follow another direction. That is and always will be a firm basis in our lives.
When Pedro, a yellow Labrador mix, came into my life, my entrance into the world of training was sealed, even though he was not my first dog. He taught me, that dogs are never the same, that every animal is an individual, that everyone has their own characteristics, and that we as humans have to respect that. Pedro is still, after more than 13 years, my soul companion but was a dog of highest energy in earlier days, who challenged his limits every day, was up to a lot of monkey business, chewing on shoes, glasses, cushions, and more and declaring them to be his toys. Yes, he took great pleasure in investigating all these objects with his teeth. He did not respect people's space, jumped on everyone, fought little battles with my brother when he brought his girlfriend or friends into the house. He sometimes drove the people around him to the edge of sheer despair. My mother regularly threatened to auction him on eBay. Although meant as a joke, it clearly showed the seriousness of the situation.
But Pedro had not expected my very tenacious determination at that time. The willpower to make us two individuals a team. To help him, Pedro, to become what every dog owner desires: the perfect dog for oneself. After nearly 20 months, we had made it. A beloved, energetic, yellow Labrador puppy had become my beloved, reliable, bright and happy companion for life. That's one of the reasons why he accompanied me to Spain. To say it in the words of Heinz Rüh-mann: "You can live without a dog, but it's not worth it." Even today Pedro helps me with his strong social skills in working with others, in the eyes of their owners’ crazy dogs.
Pedro kept me on the right track. I started dealing with the psychology and understanding of dogs. An enormously important, if not the most important tool to properly evaluate a dog is to watch them closely, respect and understand the animal. I came to grips with dog psychology, body language and various evaluation approaches and began to study these areas more intensively. I should remind you all, who take the time to read these lines, that theory is and always will be an important part of training, but theory alone does not help the dog when there is a lack of practice and experience. In practice, we see things, behavior, reactions and live situations, learning to see what matters. Being able to share and exchange these observations with experienced colleagues makes the difference. I have learned this the hard way, went through tough times on an international level and with hundreds of different dogs, no matter what breed, and I am grateful for every four-legged friend who broadened my horizon and just as thankful to every trainer who shared their knowledge with me.
To explain or clarify it better, I would like to share some more stories with you, from the daily lives of dog owners, I was allowed to work with. They will tell their own stories and report on their experiences. I am sure that many dog owners will believe that they are reading scenarios from their own lives, thinking "oh," "I believe that," "is that me," or "is that us?"
"This is my short story about my American Stafford girl, Shiva and me. When we got Shiva who was four weeks old, we had no idea what an impact she would have to stirring up our existing pack of two Lhasa Apsos.
At four months, she was constantly trying to become leader of the pack, taking this position away from our Lhasa male. Consequently, I needed to find a dog trainer who could help me and my girl. That’s how we found Petra Köhler. She initially gave us one-to-one lessons, which were a whole new experience for me, especially as I had never had any problems with our Lhasas before. Among other things, I learnt to show a new body language towards Shiva, which led to Shiva learning to understand what I wanted from her. Petra explained to me that Shiva has a strong character who needs an equally strong personality at her side.
Step by step she showed me what we needed to do on our common path, although it was completely uncharted territory for me, it made me aspire to want to become one with Shiva. First, we took the basic course and once a week the social group. Off leash, shaping and pack walks followed. Not forgetting, various seminars that have brought us many positive experiences for our work together.
All the courses I took were characterized by complete proficiency, integrity, justice and a great deal of appreciation for each and every one of us and our dog.
It was not only good for Shiva, but also for us all, thanks to this our pack finally got a relaxed and peaceful coexistence through the help of Petra. Thank you, Petra, no matter what, we will remain faithful students of yours."
One of the reasons I am sharing this with you is that, throughout this book, you will often read about leadership, rules, fairness, body language and energy. What I want to achieve with this book is to give you an idea, an aid on how to
2. Understand your dog better as the being that it is,
3. Understand what the energy in our daily work is about
4. Training approaches for the typical basic obedience, in which everyone can choose the appropriate concept.
Luckily, I was able to work with lots of internationally known trainers as a dog trainer. Cesar Milan, Cheri Wulff Lucas, Jason Vasconi, Chad Mackin, Nelson Hodges, Claudio Barbosa, Barbara de Groodt, just to name a few. I and these esteemed colleagues all have their beliefs and experiences in what is meaningful and right for them and the dog. Thus, it was possible for me not only to find that every tool has its right to existence, every followed individual approach, but also to find out what is essential for us as a trainer.
First, it is important to find the right tool for each dog, that also fits with the nature of the owner and secondly, it is about teaching people, to give them guidance for themselves and the dog and to accompany them, so that they can in the future make the right and appropriate decisions for themselves. I try to teach all my students as broadly and meticulously as possible, so that they are basically always able to make decisions for themselves and their dogs in certain situations. Every dog that has come into my life has taught me a lot, which is also the reason for this book. I would like to share some of the things, that dogs have taught, shared with and shown me over the years, and pass this on to people like you. With this, I would like to try to contribute to a better understanding between dogs and their owners. One of the reasons why I love working with dogs so much is not the inconsiderable amount of time involved in working with the owner, but to show the owners what it means to have a dog, to take responsibility for it and to deal with it objectively.
I promise you that if you are willing to finish this book and then deal with the major needs of your dog, you will also learn to develop a special, species-appropriate relationship with your dog and work with it and learn to live with your dog under the best possible conditions.
It is worth it!
Because of this, another story.
Lissi - The impetuous
My / our dog from a rescue: training, patient but dedicated work, putting energy into the leash, short, clear commands. Wow, it works.
Especially in the training approach, I immediately noticed that there was no working "school books" philosophy but the nature and behavior of my dog (mine seemed boisterous, but very insecure) was taken into account 200 percent. Pulling on the leash, harassing other dogs, and at the same time often lying on her back. If my dog saw a human or another dog, she would charge forward. I was annoyed and made a habit of going for a walk when I could expect to see few or no other dogs. That was status quo. But then …
I noticed the unique competence of this trainer. Temperate, even waiting, listening carefully while I talked about my relationship with my then almost two-year-old dog. She asked, evaluated, but never blamed. She asked thoughtful questions. The training approaches were individual, proficient, highly flexible and perceptive. At the same time calm and focused. The classes / seminars were / are eye & heart opening, now one could feel, experience, see and understand. Finally, I could become one with my dog. Through the clever, funny and highly competent way in which the seminars and classes were set up and held, I not only learned a lot, but also had a lot of fun. What a success. The training sessions have become a fulfilling hobby for me. Although my dog is almost 100 percent obedient and trustworthy, it is still a pleasure for me and my dog to continue to train in certain classes. Small mistakes that creep in once in a while, are cleared up quickly. We work together, trust and enjoy each other. Not to be underestimated is the social aspect … to be able to make new friends, exchange ideas and more.
A special highlight is the social group. Dogs and humans come together, and Petra takes over the responsibility for the dogs’ interactions during this time, while the people just move (walk) and have time for wonderful conversations and exchanges. My life was enriched by training with Petra, I found that she did not train my dog, but ME. An absolute must. I have become more confident because I have learned to read my dog better, I pay attention to body language, have built a relationship with my dog and know that I always have a trainer by my side, whose competence and love is unparalleled. I just would like to thank you.
What I mean by this is that the more we accept the dog as what it is, the easier it is to be able to influence and above all train him. Therefore, I also want to share some excerpts of my seminar content with you.
The difference between training tools and Cool Touch. How did Cool Touch evolve, what have I experienced all too often? It was created by me, evaluating the core of the many "stories" dog owners have shared with me. In workshops I evaluated, gave answers and explanations to the owner about the why or why not and providing them with the tools and techniques to make it work for them. Building the foundation of a good relationship.
In a healthy relationship with our dog we pay attention to the training techniques, the training tools, the training methods and the nature of the dog. All of this should be balanced and thought out.