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May 1, 2009

Pit Bull Training Team in Atlanta

Atlanta's PBTT is off to a great start

The Humane Society of the United States

  • People and their pit bulls are flocking to Atlanta's PBTT classes. Kingdom Photography

  • Popeye and Marsh make the rounds. Kingdom Photography

  • Students relax and get silly during breaks. Kingdom Photography

  • Tank focuses on Mark's commands during training. Sandra D'elisle

  • Tank rests in the Atlanta heat. Kingdom Photography

Despite the heat and large group, this was the best class we have ever had. Another record turnout—16 dogs in all—but between the volunteers, trainers, and myself we were able to get everyone in.

Christina and Olive

I had Christina sit with Olive off to the side and told her to pay attention to Olive only when she was calm. Olive lunged and barked and snarled at the other dogs in class for a good thirty minutes before finally running out of energy and sitting down. Christina's praise and rewards paid off, and soon Olive was intently watching the show, quiet as a mouse.

Lessons in Heeling and Group "Downs"

Tank and Mark worked closely with our new trainer, Bryant, on heeling. Mark has really struggled at getting  his bruiser of a dog, Tank, to heel. Bryant showed Mark techniques to help, and results came quickly. Popeye and his mom also made progress and she had him heeling nicely within five minutes.

All the owners learned to walk their dogs with purpose rather than seeming to ask the dogs to go with them. After the heeling course, and a few rounds of "red light, green light," came an agility course, and then we switched our focus to group "downs."

We had the whole class, including Olive, the volatile female pit, lying down and relaxing by the end of class. 

Younger Members

Ralph took some time at the end of class to talk about pulling younger members of the community into the class, and I hope to see some younger guys coming soon.

Susan and I talked to a young guy with a puppy about housebreaking and vaccines, something he knew very little about. His puppy was about eight weeks old and his first dog. He said that all he knew about pits was that they were mean and fought, and he didn’t want his dog to be the same way. I know he will be back when he gets his pup vaccinated at a local low-cost clinic.

August 1, 2009

We started up our second session today and it was another record turnout. The crowd hung on in spite of the heat and the dogs lounged in the pools between workouts. 

Mark and Tank

Many of the guys form the last class turned up, including Mark and Tank. Mark has been working Tank every day at home and the difference is amazing. Tank has gone from the dog I couldn't bring into class to the dog I use for demos.

I am so proud of these two, and I think Mark has a real future with the program. He is one of our best spokesmen and advocates.

Christina and Olive

We met Christina with her female pit, Olive, for the first time today. Christina found Olive in an area of Atlanta known for dogfighting and the young dog shows both the physical and mental scars of dogfighting. Her ears and face have the typical mutilple punctures, but her ears have not been cut for fighting. 

Christina and I were unable to get Olive into class today because the young dog was lunging, snapping and reacting with extreme aggression to the other dogs and redirecting her aggression onto Christina. I told Christina to come back to the next class early for some private work.

Popeye and his mom

We also met Popeye and his mom, and this dog has no idea he is a pit bull. He is easily 100 pounds, but a 100 pounds of love. 

Popeye dragged his mom all over the field today but hid behind her whenever another person or dog approached. These two should be a lot of fun!

Class No. 2

The second class had to wait an hour to get in. By the time the second class started, both the dogs and their owners were exhausted and hot. I promised to get everyone into the first class next week, and I suspect we will have to split up the class soon.

It's great that we have dogs and guys ready to go to the next level.

Tim, Bryant, and Blue Boy

Tim and Bryant have joined the training team and I am thrilled. Tim and Bryant are both excellent, get-the-job-done trainers and are just the support I need. 

Bryant's pit bull, Blue Boy, is a awesome ambassador for the program, as he is a very well-trained and extremely entertaining pit. I am looking forward to an exciting ten weeks.

April 29, 2009

Jamal, Ralph and Big D must have been busy last week, because we had all shapes and sizes of pit bulls and lots of newcomers, including several new puppies and members of Platinum Bullies, the local pit bull club. 

Geno and Spookie Boy

Geno and Spookie Boy were there on this hot weekend, and Spook did wonderfully. During the first week, Spook was so nervous that Geno had a hard time managing him. The dog hovered by his training box, not wanting to go out into the open space. 

Now, Spook shone in class and Geno worked really hard to encourage Spook during training for his Canine Good Citizen exam. The dog actually purred from happiness! Spook flew over the A-frame jump and did great down-stays. He was no longer hugging the training box from nervousness, either.

Jamison and Vick

Jamison and his male pit, the ironically named Vick, were back this week, and Vick was really fired up. After wrestling with him for a few minutes to burn off some of his excess energy, we spent several more minutes running Vick over the agility equipment and doing some immediate drops and stays. 

Soon, Vick calmed down and focused better. He is young and very driven—definitely the type of dog this program is aimed at. Without proper guidance, Vick could turn out to be a real problem guy. 

Jamison worked really hard to turn him around and we began to see some great results. Stay tuned.

Catrise and NuNu

Catrise and NuNu were back at it this week as well. NuNu is a gorgeous young female who has been a real handful for Catrise. In the beginning, NuNu dragged Catrise everywhere and lunged at anything that walked by. 

This week, Catrise got straight to work with NuNu, beginning by running NuNu full-out on the agility equipment and having her follow obedience commands. Despite some serious distractions from the big boys around her, NuNu was able to sit quietly and pay attention to Catrise, impressing us all.  

NuNu is a goodlooking girl and the boys seem to get a bit jealous of each other around her. NuNu just blew them all off and focused on her mom, Catrise. Way to go, girls!

We're looking forward to seeing next week's new additions: Block, Icey and some new puppies.

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