Jun 16, 2014
07:55 AM
Health & Wellness

'Eddie the Dog Guy' of Danbury 'Whispers' and Canines’ Issues Resolved

'Eddie the Dog Guy' of Danbury 'Whispers' and Canines’ Issues Resolved

Laurie Gaboardi/Litchfield County Times

'Eddie the Dog Whisperer' with some canine friends.

Americans love animals. Statistics tell the story: Since the 1970s pet ownership in this country has tripled from approximately 67 million household pets 40 years ago to some 164 million in 2012, according to the Humane Society.

At the same time, Americans spent more on their pets than ever before, at least $50 billion in 2012, according to the same source.

But all is not rosy in the land of animal ownership. As people own more pets and bring them closer to their family circle, there are inevitably problems. This fact accounts for the immense popularity of shows such as Cesar Millan’s “Dog Whisperer,” in which the dog guru is able to correct seemingly any negative behavior that dogs demonstrate, restoring them to harmony with their families.

Millan’s mantra is that he does not treat problem dogs,but problem people. That is a theme echoed by Eddie Simon of Danbury, the East Coast version of Millan. Known locally as “Eddie the Dog Guy,” he has an ever-increasing reputation locally for being able to resolve canine problems.

“We euthanize way too many dogs in this country,” he asserted in a phone interview. “We need to try to cut that number down at the same time we need to lower the number of dog bites. Four-to-six million dogs are euthanized each year. The return rate for dogs in shelters is pathetic. I’ve been doing this professionally for a decade, and I know it’s at least one-third.”

Also see another "dog whisperer" story: Healing Power, Love From Dogs Are Focus of Connecticut 'Dog Whisperer'

Simon said he believes that the basis for the problem lies in unrealistic expectations on the part of humans. “Most people truly believe that dogs act the way they do in Disney movies, but when it comes to severe behavior problems they behave very differently,” he said. “It’s not that there is a lack of caring people who are trying to help—there are 8,000 registered rescues in Connecticut alone—but there is a lack of information. You can’t be a mechanic if you don’t know how a car works.”

This lack of information can be lethal for a dog. Most dogs are surrendered to shelters because of behavioral issues and, once in the system, are often returned time and again until they are put down. “It drives me up the wall because it all starts with a good dog,” Simon said. “People just don’t carry the right information. I catch a lot of flack from groups saying, ‘Why waste your time on vicious dogs?’ That California dog [that bit the toddler] didn’t come out of its mother vicious. Every one of my 18 dogs is proof of this. I’ve placed 60 dogs in the past decade, which doesn’t sound like much except that they all were rescued from death row—the toughest of the toughest. Most aggressive dogs can be turned around.”

The first step toward creating a healthy relationship with a dog is recognizing the difference between humans and canines. “I tell my clients that dogs need love, trust and respect,” Mr. Simon said. “Too many people have the wrong response when I tell them they need to be dominant. I try to explain that to be dominant, the alpha, you are the decision maker.”

This, he said, makes a dog feel secure.

“I like to watch wolf videos,” Simon continued. “When the alpha pair returns to a pack, they present themselves, they stand tall and the others are whimpering around them. But what do we do when we come home from work? We are talking and leaning over making [high-pitched] sounds they can’t understand but that sound subservient. We encourage the dog to take the dominant role by default. This is where anxiety or stress comes in.”

Humans typically try to establish dominance by resorting to obedience training, but this is not the answer, according to Simon. “Obedience training will not give you dominance,” he said. “You can teach them ‘sit, stay and heel’ and they will be like angels until there is a mailman, a cat or a squirrel. You can put 10 dogs through obedience class and I will bet 10 of them will have that one situation where the owners will have no control. Obedience training is not the natural way they communicate. Teach sit, come, stay, heel—when you have taught them that, it’s not like you are done for life.”

Instead of obedience training, Simon advocates “behavior shaping.”

See the full story at The Litchfield County Times.

 

'Eddie the Dog Guy' of Danbury 'Whispers' and Canines’ Issues Resolved

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