Finding Your Dog’s Zen

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Peedee listens attentively as directions for an exercise on how to have pets approach their food on command calmly takes place for dog-owners.
Peedee listens attentively as his owners receive directions on how to train him to approach food on command.” credit=”Jennifer Chow / WUFT

Peedee Gilbertson had a knack for launching off the ground and jumping onto beds, and the hyperactive terrier-mix’s owners were running out of answers on just how to keep up with him.

“We’ve had him in classes before to no avail,” said Beverly Gilbertson, owner of Peedee, whom she got a little over a year ago. “He would listen to my husband but not to me, so I would have to give him a treat. But that’s not the case anymore.”

Over the past few weeks, Peedee mastered a new technique that put his owners at ease – de-adrenalizing.

“He listens, he’s a lot calmer, and he follows commands,” Gilbertson said. “He doesn’t even jump on our bed anymore, which was one of the main things. And when he gets excited, we are able to calm him down.”

Rich Warfel and dog owners anxiously wait for a dog in the puppy social, to make it’s way to the end of the training tunnel.
Dream Dogz co-owner Rich Warfel and his clients anxiously wait for a dog in the puppy social to make its way to the end of the training tunnel.” credit=”Jennifer Chow / WUFT

The trainers at Dream Dogz Behavior Center in Gainesville, Florida, specialize in modifying the behavior of dogs. And de-adrenalizing is one of its key steps in the process of making your pup into a “dream dog.”

Dream Dogz has proven its method through thousands of success stories since its opening three years ago, thanks in part to head trainer Victoria Warfel’s nine years of training experience. Still, many dog owners remain unfamiliar with the technique.

“Everyone knows what adrenaline is, that ‘woo hoo I’m in the boxing ring, I can’t hear anyone’ really bouncing off the walls kind of state,” said Rich Warfel, trainer and co-owner of Dream Dogz. “That’s fun and you can use that for that training, but for a dog, he’s got to be able to come out of that, and control that.”

Warfel explains that many dogs are adrenaline addicts. They’re often hyper or barking uncontrollably for no reason other than the rush it creates. Most of them believe their frantic behavior is the only way to reach that feeling. De-adrenalizing puts the canines in a different mindset and exposes them to an equally-satisfying, yet calm environment that also benefits owners.

“We are communication-based dog trainers,” said Victoria Warfel, Dream Dogz head trainer and co-owner along with her husband, Rich. “I think that dogs are used to living in a world where people talk a lot, but it’s not about them so they tune us out. If we make it all about them, they’re going to pay attention.”

Dream Dogz innovative approach to dog training targets the dog’s state of mind. The technique of de-adrenalizing makes it easier for a dog to be trained. Dream Dogz also emphasizes the importance of being able to socialize with other dogs; a skill that can best be achieved when a dog is in a de-adrenalized state.

Dream Dogz trainers even facilitate the process of taking your dog for a walk or releasing them from a kennel. De-adrenalizing is the first step to eliminating the chaos that follows a dog’s first glimpse of a leash or hearing a cage lock unlatch.

As for Gainesville dog owners who think there’s no hope for the hyper pets they’ve had for years, the trainers at Dream Dogz beg to differ.

“Dogs can learn at just about any age,” Rich Warfel said. “You can always teach an old dog new tricks.”

About Jennifer Chow

Jennifer is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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