Last September, our family adopted a 4 month-old mixed-breed puppy from the Rochester Humane Society. At first, Mollipop was as sweet as her name suggests. As she grew a bit older, though, she exhibited an excessive amount of hyperactive energy and was constantly in motion. She never paused to cuddle and wouldn’t nap unless we crated her. She often resorted to mischief to cope with her nervous energy, and we were convinced she didn’t know how to relax. Mollipop surfed the counters regularly, stealing anything she could reach. She shredded mail, homework, instruction manuals, etc. She destroyed three pairs of our daughters’ prescription glasses, a universal remote control, several shoes, and eventually some furniture. She lived for the game of chase that ensued after this naughty behavior in order to stop her, therefore creating a frustrating and expensive cycle of negative attention. We realized quickly we did not have the tools to train this puppy effectively. We were exhausted and desperate for some relief when we learned about Canine Academy.
I enrolled Mollipop in the Beginner training class and day-training twice a week. This combination of training definitely helped curb her destructive behavior, but I could tell we had bitten off more than we knew how to chew with this pup. You see, Mollipop was a 45 pound mix of pit-bull and boxer. In addition to being extraordinarily cute, she was very strong and very stubborn. I’d leave the one hour class exhausted from wrestling her into position. While I couldn’t deny her slow but steady progress, I knew we didn’t have the the kind of time necessary to devote to training to guarantee her success, and the inconsistent use of commands at home from my husband and our three teenage kids was terribly confusing for all of us. Mollipop’s training was admittedly an afterthought because of our crazy schedules, and her bad behavior was taking a negative toll on our family.
I felt bad for Mollipop. I had wanted to give her a loving home with a family who adored her. Instead, the chaos she created caused our stress level to go through the roof and we began to resent her because she seemed like constant work. So instead of enrolling her for her the Intermediate Class, we opted for the Off Leash training program.
At the time, it seemed like an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a dog. We had some very real concerns: Would she remember us? Would she be mad at us for sending her away for 6 weeks? Was Mollipop even capable of being a GREAT dog or was this a hopeless waste of money? If it worked, would she still be playful or would she lose her personality? We agreed the time and expense was worth the risk. We dropped her off in Oxford and wished the staff the best of luck. At 8 months old, we were pretty certain Mollipop was going to give their trainers a run for their money.
Week 1: I won’t lie - we didn’t miss Mollipop AT ALL. In fact, her absence felt pretty amazing. The house stayed clean. We didn’t miss the cold trips outside to take her potty. The stress level in the house lowered dramatically. The break from her mischief felt like a breath of fresh air.
Week 2: Mollipop started to make some pretty impressive photo appearances on Facebook via the Canine Academy blog. She was sitting. She was staying. She was obviously LISTENING to commands! This was very exciting to see. There was hope! She was doing it!
I called to check on her: I about fell out of my chair when Lindsay told me she was doing great and everyone loved working with her! She wasn’t driving them crazy?!!! Amazing.
Week 3: Photos of Mollipop all over town started to pop up on the blog! Videos demonstrated her ability to calmly stay in one spot even with the distraction of strangers and other dogs surrounding her! Our hope for our puppy quickly turned to PRIDE. We started to remember all of the fun things about Mollipop. How she was always so happy to see us. How much she made us laugh. How we named her because she would “pop” her little butt up in the air when she was excited. We began to miss her terribly and couldn’t wait to see her!
I called to check on her: She was ahead of schedule!!! How could this be possible?!! There’s no way we could have done this on our own!
Week 4: I now checked FB every day for more amazing photos and videos of our trained dog. She continued to surface - inside classrooms, stores, nursing homes, etc. But I noticed something very different now. Her ears appeared relaxed and borderline floppy. Her demeanor was calm and relaxed. It was obvious the work was no longer hard for her and she was enjoying herself. Our dog rocked and we couldn’t WAIT to bring her home!
I called to check on her: Mollipop has gained confidence and is beginning to understand that humans and training keep her safe. The feeling of “safe” is comforting so she looks forward to commands to avoid danger!
Week 5: Mollipop sightings continue via the Canine Academy Blog. We anxiously prepare for her arrival. We buy her a welcome home basket of toys and treats and talk about her incessantly.
I didn’t call to check on her: I know she's in GREAT hands and doing just fine!
Week 6: My husband and I went to Canine Academy to work with Mollipop for three 1 hour training sessions.
Day 1: We were nervous and excited. I think she was too. She was happy to see us and worked very hard with great success. We felt anxious and a bit overwhelmed. We were worried we’d mess up her training!
Day 2: We were much more relaxed going into this session. When she saw us, she was ecstatic. She dropped at our feet and rolled over for the biggest belly rub with excitement. She worked hard with great success, and was definitely relaxed.
Day 3: We felt confident with the information Kara and Christine had patiently shared with us to educate us about our Great Dog. We understood we would make mistakes, and so would Mollipop, but ultimately everything would be okay. Mollipop was happy to hop in the back of our car to go home with us, but we never got the feeling she was impatient to leave Canine Academy. It brought us joy to see how comfortable she was there and how fond she was of her trainers. We were happy for our girl.
Since she’s been home.
We are happy to report that Mollipop continues to be a GREAT DOG!!! Still a puppy at 9 months old, she is extremely well behaved. We take her with us everywhere with great confidence! We even opted to stay local for Spring Break so we could spend time with her and reap the benefits of her training! We took her for a two night staycation at The Townsend Hotel (the staff there is amazing) and shopped with her in Birmingham. She was happy to be along and very polite in every store we visited no matter what distractions presented themselves.
We then took her to the country for a few days where she enjoyed the freedom of wide open spaces and the room to run like the greyhound she thinks she is. We are most amazed by her willingness to stay close to us. It’s obvious she trusts us to keep her safe and that brings her great comfort. Mollipop no longer presents as an anxious dog with nervous / hyper energy. Instead she is calm, gentle and loving. She enjoys relaxing and cuddling with people. She is polite when meeting strangers and friendly with children and other dogs. While she is still tempted to dig (as it really is great fun), she now stops when we tell her to leave it. She no longer surfs the counters because her OFF command has taught her that’s not a safe choice. She rarely gets into trouble because she chooses to be near us, and is almost always within eyesight. Therefore, we can catch her before she makes mistakes and correct her with ease.
In reality, we spent far less money on Mollipop’s training than we would have spent on a Spring Break trip with our family of 5. By foregoing one week of vacation, we now feel like we LIVE ON VACATION WITH OUR GREAT DOG! It’s truly the best decision we could have made! We are so grateful for the staff at Canine Academy! They treat Mollipop like family, and are incredibly invested in her success. We never hesitate to call to ask questions and are so thankful for their ongoing support! Mollipop's training affords us the luxury of peace of mind whenever she is with us. As a result, we play with her all the time and she receives the love and attention she deserves. She brings our family an immense amount of joy and we are so very proud of her! She IS a GREAT dog!!