Erick Aguirre, CrossFitter and owner of Pride of the Pack Dog Training, has been living in Manhattan, New York for 12 years. Erick has a strong passion for helping dogs and people and truly wants everyone to experience the incredible happiness and the powerful bond that can be created through dog training and dog ownership. We sat down with Erick to learn more about his philosophy on training both dogs and their owners and how we can all improve our relationships with our own pups!
Wags: Tell us a bit about Pride of the Pack..
Erick: Pride of the Pack originally began a few months after I got my first personal dog. I grew up around dogs in my family my whole life, but I was never the one responsible for them. Once I got my own dog I mistakenly felt like I could 'figure it out' and pretty quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing and needed help. I enrolled myself and my dog Violet in a 5 week group training course and had success with Violet, but it was around this time I got a second dog and had huge success with him. I caught the training bug after that and spent all my free time training both of them and had a ton of fun. Sadly, the second dog suddenly passed away due to a mysterious illness, which was a difficult time, but a major positive came from it. I realized I loved training dogs and loved my relationship with my dogs and knew I wanted to help other people have the same feeling and relationship with their dogs as I did to mine. He was and is my inspiration to train dogs and help as many people as I can.
After that epiphany, I began training some friend's dogs and had success with them so I finally decided to take the leap and create a business so I could begin making it my job instead of a hobby. We've only been a business for a short time, but we're incredibly passionate about helping people and doing as much as we can to provide social media tips and techniques to help people who may not be able to use our services due to whatever reason. We've had amazing clients and dogs so far and look forward a great future of helping as many dog owners create the best relationship possible with their dogs. As for Violet, she's the real hero of Pride of the Pack Dog Training!
Wags: How did you get started with dog training?
Erick: Originally I watched A LOT of Cesar Millan videos on youtube but didn't feel like it gave me a great ability to do much besides say "TSSSCH" to my dog and create awkward moments attempting to foot tap her butt on walks... Once I realized I needed extra help, I got in touch with a trainer who held group classes and was able to learn and slowly make progress with my dog Violet. At times I feel like she was the perfect dog to have to learn to train dogs because she was difficult to motivate, but inherently a really good dog. We were able to build our relationship together thanks to her patience and resilience throughout our training process.
Wags: What's the best part about training dogs and their humans?
Erick: There's a moment when you're training a dog where everything clicks for the dog and they look back at you with total understanding of what you're asking of them. Many people don't know how truly incredible their relationship with their dog can be if there's a clear line of communication between each other. It's awesome to witness the moment where a dog and owner finally feel like they're speaking the same language and they can now take their relationship and lifelong bond to the next level.
Wags: What's the number one issue you see people having with their pups?
Erick: Too much unwarranted affection. Humans have an incredibly complex range of emotions that allow levels of affection to mean many different things, but to a dog, physical affection is mainly a reward. If a dog is receiving affection for doing absolutely nothing to deserve it, or even worse, receiving affection to combat bad behaviors, then they have no incentive to listen and/or be obedient. People should understand that physical affection and kindness in a dog's mind equates to payment, and if you didn't have to do anything to receive payment, why work for it? Doing simple things like creating structure, instilling accountability, and using rewards only when warranted would do wonders for most dog owners. Everyone loves their dog and you can give them all the love they deserve, but they should be doing something to earn it.
Wags: How do we get our dogs to become "better listeners"?
Erick: This may sound counterintuitive, but you can teach your dog to listen better by talking less. Dogs don't speak English, they don't speak any language. You can teach them to associate sounds, signals, and scenarios with behaviors, but in actuality it's not because they suddenly learned English, they simply associate a sound with a behavior that equates reward (treats, toys, physical affection). Learning how to properly communicate and using as little words as possible to talk to your dog will allow them to become better listeners because there's less clutter surrounding the important stuff. Be aware of what your body means to your dog, in the beginning stages of teaching a command, they're not doing it because they know what the word is, they're doing it because they associate your body movements with what behavior you're looking for.
Wags: Where should I start if I'm just beginning to train my dog?
Erick: Follow @theprideofthepack haha. If you're just starting, immediately create structure. Structure is king. If you attach a structure to everything a dog does in a day's time, it will go a long way. Beyond that, find a trainer whose training system you agree with and start consuming any online content they have. There are many ways to train a dog, but you should find the way that makes you feel comfortable both in methods and results. Most importantly, don't put so much pressure on yourself, you have your dog's whole life to train them, if things aren't clicking in a week or two, just keep working, you'll always be better the next day than you were the day before.
Wags: Top three tips for dog owners out there?
1) Stop giving unwarranted affection.
2) Create structure in your household.
3) Be patient and consistent!