All I want this year is to be my dog’s person.
By: Vincent Chauvet
It always starts with a bark of crazy happiness. My magnificent Australian Cattle Dog leaps towards the tall, thin smiling man in shorts and flowered shirt holding a long lead in his hands. Magnum Peeyed and John Walton always seem to have been two long lost best friends that just ran into each other. What is even more amazing is that John, a professional dog trainer, passes this on to all his trainees. In seconds, Magnum turns and runs back to his master, me, a twelve-year old boy he idolizes, protects and with whom he shares his passionate life.
My mom was looking to board our dogs while we went on trip this past summer. Putting Magnum in a kennel did not seem fair to him because he is so full of energy. Mom reached out to many of her friends to find a board-and-train kennel that would take on my teenage Cattle Dog and finally chose John Walton who had left a very simple and to the point brochure in the clinic she works in.
John breaks the standard mold for dog trainers I have met. He has trained Hollywood canines and famous people pets for the past thirty plus years and if there is one thing he knows backwards forwards it is dogs. In the puppy classes I took, we had to have mats, clickers and treats, the mainstay for dog training. John brings back to dog training something long forgotten, the relationship between the dog and his person, that legendary bond between master and dog, the bond that I saw in Lassie, Old Yeller and The Incredible Journey. No clicks, no treats, no baiting.
John also interviews his canine candidates to assess the plan and needs. One would expect some confusion for Magnum who was treat and clicker trained, but leash and chain collar on, fifteen minutes later, Magnum heeled, sat, admired his new friend, waited off lead for his “CHECK, Magnum come!….Good boy, what a great dog you are!” The smile on my dog’s face when John claps to congratulate him is pure joy to see! To be honest, I sometimes get a little jealous of how much John and Magnum like each other.
For three weeks, Magnum stayed with John who, upon our return, set up sessions with me to secure the transfer. My wild and crazy boy was transformed into one obedient companion that still loved life, without mat nor treats. His reward is my attention. We are inseparable and our bond continues to grow, thanks to John who follows up without any expectations from us.
There is no special place to meet such as a rink or standard dog training situation. Only our yard, a park, a street, anywhere a dog would be with their person, hanging out in Sarasota and checking out the scenes. Distractions are necessary for Magnum to learn to listen to only me. I can call him, “Check Magnum, come” in the middle of playing with other dogs and he drops everything to come to me.
John really delivers relationships that dogs and their people, like me, thrive on. At his home, where John also trains dogs, there are four canines of various sizes and shape. He talks to them, but not orders them around. Each dog knows what is expected of him or her.
So if you are looking to have your dog trained for conformation shows, John Walton is not the man. If you are looking to build a relationship for your dog as his person, he is where the magic begins. Magnum and I are sure glad he moved to Sarasota.
End of class hugs