Amanda and Mary
“The best decision I have ever made.” Read Amanda’s Yelp review.
Juleta, Barrack, and Harley
“His methods are like nothing I have ever seen in my 53 years.” Read Juleta’s Yelp review.
Amy and Jasper
“I highly recommend “The DOuG Trainer” if you want to learn about yourself and if you’re open to changing your own behavior too.” Read Amy’s review on Yelp.
Pam and Gerty
By: Pam Huwig
As we all know, there is an endless pool of people who claim to possess expertise on this, that or the other. Yup, they have all the answers to all of the universe’s oldest mysteries – and they sure as hell are eager to puke out a brain-numbing dissertation to any willing ears. Yawn, stretch and please get back to your day job instead of expending so much energy on enlightening us obtuse folk.
And then there are those unassuming spiritual giants who only decided to share their authentic knowledge as a result of some serendipitous turn of events. These are the people who actually do have natural prowess for something, people who, by sharing what they know, sincerely and profoundly create authentic ripples of change in the world.
There are plenty of dog trainers out there – and many of them are amazingly gifted, and prove to be beneficial to pets and their people. I recently had the pleasure of hiring Doug Parker (The DOuG Trainer) to help me find loving solutions to some hefty problems my Chihuahua and I were experiencing. But let me offer up some background before I get on the Doug is Orlando’s Cesar Millan train (a train I am truly eager to board…train pun intended)!
I lost my darling dog named Paige to cancer in 2007. I’d had her since she was a pup, and 14 years later it was time for her to transition to wherever we all go after we are done here. Needless to say, I was devastated, unhinged, unmoored – and was convinced (at least on the surface of my emotions) that I would not want another dog because losing them is too high a price. Well, I’ve always been a dog-person, and knew I wasn’t kidding anybody – namely myself.
About a month later, fate decided to see to it that my path crossed with this tiny, painfully-adorable Chihuahua that had been horrifically abused by some psycho piece of garbage who clearly was a poser when it came to claiming to be a member of the human race. I would call him an animal but that term is reserved for the best this world has to offer. OK, I digress….
A Chihuahua? A purse dog? After having a Lab/Shepard mix for decades? I wasn’t so sure. I worried I would break her, roll over on her and squash her, sneeze with too much power and send her toppling end over end in midair. Well, once again every word my mother had ever uttered about not being presumptuous whacked me upside my numskull when the foster parent opened the crate door and this cocky, aggressive little Napoleon-complex tough-girl swaggered out – in full bark.
The foster mom had warned me prior to our meeting. She pledged that this dog, without question, would bite me upon our first encounter. OK, I replied with an easy shrug. I was anything but scared because I full-well knew something was tractor beaming me to this animal. Cheesy? Absolutely. But I don’t care because the thousand curious and odd events that unfolded to bring me to this dog still baffle me to this day.
Anyway, this little Chi looked like a miniature Husky as she barked and sized me up. I composedly knelt down and allowed my hand to hang from where it rested on my knee. I waited. And waited. Finally, she sheepishly made her way over to me, and instead of biting me, her velvety pink tongue quickly swiped over my fingers a single time. And because I am perhaps the biggest dorkiest, sap-master dog person around, when her bulging brown eyes locked with the blue of mine, I just knew she and I were officially beginning a life together.
Well, to make a long story a little less long: It turns out that Gertrude (the name I gave her) had some major aggression issues. Who could blame her, after all? If someone had literally kept me locked up in a crate 24-7, didn’t feed me, beat me and god knows what else, I’d be aggressive too. She’d been adopted out twice before me, and returned both times due to her unmanageable aggression. I hired a dog trainer to help me because I’d never had a dog that was difficult to train – until Gertrude. I have zero bad comments to say about this initial dog trainer, as she was wonderful and exhibited skill and authentic affection. I did everything she’d suggested for the following months, and Gerty’s behavior surely showed improvement. For instance, instead of biting each and every passerby on the sidewalk, she only tried for every other one. My thought at the time was: Progress, not perfection.
I took her to the dog park, following the advice of the trainer, in an attempt to socialize her. Well, that was always a tall order because I’m something of a recluse, so how did I socialize my dog when I wasn’t socialized my damn self? Gertrude was on leash but when a Rottweiler youth pranced up to her to play, Gertrude switched into her Ted Bundy mode and immediately drew blood before I had time to yank her away. Shortly thereafter, a small group of pet owners approached us, asking us not to return until Gerty was better trained. Fair enough because so far as I could ascertain that was more my fault than Gertrude’s.
Time passed, Gerty continued making progress, and as I sat writing on the porch one lovely morning with my pal at my feet, I was abruptly informed that progress wasn’t going to be good enough. My neighbor was strolling by with his two male Pit Bulls on leash and Gertrude was up, darting off the porch before my duff was even all the way out of the chair. The commands I was taught to use with her were as useful as discussion of unicorns at a Stephen Hawking book release signing. I dove into the middle of the fight, extracted Gerty, who was bloody but still biting and growling. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I too had received two handsome Pit Bull puncture wounds from the festivities. Luckily, Gerty was OK, only requiring a few stitches. Also luckily, the Pits were gigantic jelly-asses who wouldn’t hurt, well, a Chihuahua that was attacking them. It was blindingly clear that had they wanted to kill her with one chomp… god forbid.
That incident prompted me to read all the Dog Whisperer books, watch all the television episodes and kick this training thing up a notch. Again, she made fantastic progress, and she is rarely aggressive these days. So much for thinking I had adopted a fragile little flower, right?
Fast forward to the present day
I have a darling daughter-dog who has traveled a million miles, who has for all intents and purposes overcome her aggression issues. I am pretty well armed with Cesar Milan’s methods and suggestions. I recognize that much of training my dog entails changing my behavior as much or more than hers. So, I have all this information flitting around in my mind but there are some issues I just can’t seem to address with Gertrude. Primary case in point: the high-pitched, virtually non-stop, brain-piercing barking. Oh my god, the barking, the barking, the barking!
So I do what any reasonable thinking-person does when they know they need help: I ask for it. Enter The DOuG Trainer. Now, I see it this way (in a nutshell): had I never given in to my resistance to move to Florida, I would have never met my boss, and had I never met her I would have never met her pal who ultimately introduced me to Doug. You see the point. But I won’t go on with the thousand curious events that perfectly unfolded resulting in my chance meeting with Doug.
I am a fiercely picky dog owner. I wouldn’t be having just any dog trainer this go around. No, this time it had to be Cesar Millan or someone just as good because clearly being armed with information isn’t enough. I was missing something in the delivery. I can read a recipe but it doesn’t mean the dish will be edible. I needed a professional to show me how to elegantly mix these ingredients. Sure, there was some prideful piece of me that didn’t want to admit defeat. But this wasn’t about my ego but about my favorite soul in the world, so I was willing to do whatever it took to finally get her trained – fully, properly and permanently.
Now mind you, when I say Gertrude barked a lot I mean that in the most literal manner. She was barking incessantly, to the point of sending me, my roommate and the whole neighborhood within earshot into clinical madness. She would sit on her window-front perch barking at passersby – people, dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, leaves, wind, tectonic plates shifting – you name it. And god forbid someone rang the doorbell in reality or on television; That produced a 20-minute barking psychotic episode. I felt guilty for feeling so frustrated with her, with myself.
I’d never met Doug in person but had only emailed and spoken to him on the phone. So, when he rang the doorbell, and Gertrude began losing her mind, I opened the door to see this tall, willowy, long-haired, Whole Foods-looking fellow standing there with one of the kindest smiles I’ve seen in quite some time. He calmly entered the house, remained standing just inside the door. We talked as he peeled off his motorcycle garb, all the while not once making eye contact or acknowledging Miss Barksalot at his feet (who amazingly and incidentally was beginning to pipe down, which was ridiculously unheard of!)
My roommie and I were noticing this bizarre phenomenon, and frankly, felt like we were witnessing some kind of David Blaine magic trick. I waited for the big punch, some grand finale where the trick was revealed, leaving us astonished and baffled. I was sincerely mesmerized by Gerty’s behavior, which, instead of escalating was descending. As she sniffed his legs, she SAT – on her own with no prompting whatsoever. I saw Doug’s mouth moving, and my intent wasn’t to be rude but I wasn’t hearing a word he was saying because I was too captivated by what was happening – or what was NOT happening, as it were.
I don’t at all subscribe to any religious beliefs, and I will openly admit I don’t subscribe to any New Age-esque rubbish that claims if I put a pyramid hat lined with sage, stones and crystals on the dog’s head she will be cured of all that ails her. But I do fancy myself something of a spiritual person – for lack of better term. So my take on what was happening was that she was responding to this guy’s freakishly soothing, still energy. Never mind anything spiritual – this is just science.
(I came to this site to post a brief testimonial, and I see it is instead morphing into a tome. All apologies, folks. I sure hope my mindless yammering hasn’t caused you to stop reading because if you love your dog like I love mine, if you see that pet as a fur-child and a true member of your family, and you need someone to assist you in helping your pet be happier and well-trained, I cannot urge you enough to give this Doug fellow a whirl.)
I suppose I could list each technique he showed me, and I also suppose I could say that he has discovered a brand new dog training secret that will solve all your problems. But that simply isn’t accurate. To be perfectly frank, Doug didn’t teach me anything I hadn’t already read or heard. But here is why I whole-heartedly believe Doug is leagues above most dog trainers out there: It isn’t so much what he does, it’s how he does it. Again, I dread coming across like some weirdo, goofy, dancing-beneath-the-moonlight wing nut, but damn it, I swear to you there is something exceptionally and beautifully effective, enlightening and exclusive about this guy’s energy. He is a rare specimen, indeed. He is some kind of dog-training savant, and he has lovingly decided to share his gift with others in hopes that it brings balance and happiness to their lives. That was his initial promise (and believe me when I say I am one hard sell) and I am here to assure you that he delivered. His rates are far too reasonable to believe he is strictly doing this for the money; He clearly has heard his calling, and is following his passion.
I hired him to come two weeks in a row. During and since that time, the dramatic change I have seen in Gertrude has literally made me cry on several occasions (and I’m not the weepy type!) I’m sure all of you are familiar with the Buddhist concept of living in the moment, harnessing and choosing the flavor of your energy and so forth. Well, that is the closest explanation I can offer as to what Doug teaches. His presence and guidance is not only changing Gertrude, but it’s reminded me that my energy directly affects her and her behavior.
I do happen to believe that Gerty was placed in my life for a reason. She and I have had many similar issues to work through on our unified life travels. And if I’m being all the way honest with myself – and with you – I have to admit that I had lost contact with the spiritual side of my life in recent years, lost touch with being mindful of my energy. Am I saying Doug is responsible for absolutely changing the course of my life, and Gerty’s life? Of course not, as we are all responsible for changing our own lives. However, I will confidently say that when our paths cross with someone who is strategically placed there, that interaction does in fact permanently alter our life course. In that sense, Doug not only trained me and my dog – but he gracefully penetrated our emotional armor and left a permanent and exquisitely lovely mark on our lives. For that, I am forever grateful.
In summary: Hire The DOuG Trainer. You will be pleased and amazed!