Who is/Was Dila
Dila was our personal dog, who inspired us to become professional dog trainers.
She was a 95 pound female Rottweiler we rescued from a German shelter back in early 2014.
Dila is a great example of a rough start in life, misjudgment and stigma, followed by a phenomenal transformation and turnaround, as well as an inspiring story of life, love and adventures. She unfortunately passed away far too early in the summer 2018 due to bone cancer.
We were actively searching for a dog, when we found her post on the internet. At this point she had been at the shelter for over 8 months. Her previous owner had dropped her off at the shelter for boarding due to ‘moving stress’ as claimed, but that was obviously just an excuse to abandon her.
Since the Shelter environment damaged her confidence and trust, Dila became reactive. The poor knowledge of the staff as well as the volunteer trainers contributed to her being falsely characterized and labeled as an “aggressive” problem dog. This restricted her to go on walks only muzzled and double leashed and limited her interaction with the outside world, adding to her unwanted behaviors.
When we approached Dila’s run for the very first time, the shelter staff couldn’t believe how friendly and welcoming she behaved towards us. It was love at first sight/sniff! After almost two weeks we finally got the green light for the adoption and were able to take her home.
As responsible dog owners, we had agreed to find her the best trainer in Germany to help with her unwanted behaviors and to make her the best dog she could become. We found the German equivalent of the ‘The dog whisperer’. Even though we had asked to work with him personally, he sent two of his trainer assistants. Very quickly we noticed that both were intimidated by the presence of a 95 lb. Rottweiler.
For over an hour both trainers didn’t interact with Dila once. Both asked question upon question about her, to the point where Dila got so bored that she started digging in the field where we met for training. At this point they asked us to cover the spots she
started digging with our feet. We did this for the remaining 40 minutes of the initial first “training” lesson, which cost us 160 Euros. On our walk back to the car we decided to take Dila’s training into our own hands.
Starting Dila’s training based on positive reinforcement methods, we quickly had great results regarding her obedience commands. She came immediately when called, sat when told and laid down when asked. As little as we knew at that point of time, we thought that due to her great response to the obedience commands, her unwanted behaviors would be fixed or controllable.
MAN WERE WE WRONG!
Her dislike of children had not changed, just shifted. Her incredible fixation on balls had not changed at all.
No matter how many commands we would address to her, she was in a different state of mind at that point and didn’t hear us at all. So we learned to avoid situations and triggers, which of course didn’t help her or us.
It wasn’t until we moved to the United States that we got introduced to the balanced training method. Skeptical as we were about correcting our dog and not just holding her accountable for her unwanted behaviors, we did learn that this was missing in our relationship with Dila. In order to make her the best dog ever and thereby making us the responsible leaders she needed to guide her through life, we had to take this next step.
With our balanced approach we were finally able to close the gaps in her unwanted behaviors. Just one month after starting with the balanced training method, we were able to have Dila accompany us to the South Florida Pet Expo. Hundreds of adults, children and dogs approached, petted her and sniffed her. Dila behaved in an outstanding fashion! People could not believe us when we told them how she used to behave in similar situations.