I joined a group on Instagram called Group German Shepherd Dog Kuwait (group_gsd_kw). They have gatherings every Saturday afternoon at Messila Beach from 2:00 to 4:00 and post photos of the events. They look like a totally cool group of people and I've been trying to get over there to see them in action. Everyone is invited. I wrote to the group admin guy and asked him if he could recommend a good trainer (as he is a hyper 5 month old and I can't wait to get him into school). I've been interviewing schools and trainers for a while now. (This is nothing! I interviewed 6 dentists before having my root canals done.... Its what I do.)
Group GSD immediately got back to me with a contact for GSD_Q8 Kennel (add BU_NOOO7 on Instagram for contact details).
I told them that I wanted to talk to them before leaving my dog there, etc. We had coffee outside in cool weather with lots of dogs barking in the background. They were LOVELY people and I felt completely confident with them.There were other trainers around bringing out happy dogs. They answered all my questions immediately and sincerely with confidence and direct eye contact.
Usually if you leave your dog at an obedience school, they keep him for about a month and you don't get to see him. These guys have another philosophy: Every dog is different. Every dog requires a different training schedule. There is no reason why an owner can't visit the dog or take him out for a few days. They don't use punishment with the dogs, but rewards, and that training must continue when the owner takes the dog home (so they must also train the owners). So, I will pay the fee and it will be on-going (and the cost is less than other schools I've spoken to).
The trainer, Peter, is from Slovakia and showed us his personal dog that he brought with him; a really beautiful and intelligent GS. I asked them how they train and if they ever have to hit the dogs. The guy literally sucked in air and said, "Of COURSE not!" (THAT is the response I was looking for!!) ; and then brought out a dog that had been trained by another trainer operating in Kabd (I'll just call him S for Sadistic - also the first letter of his real first name. San&*s), who has been known to beat dogs into submission. The female GS was a beautiful animal, but cowered every time a command was given. It was heartbreaking. They said that she will never be the same, but they were trying to rehabilitate her.
What is really ironic is that I have had S's number on my phone for months; it was given to me by someone who told me that he is a great trainer. I just never called. I called these nice guys at GSD_Q8 Kennel instead. And for 3 years running back, I have had friends with a farm right across the road from S's training center. They kept inviting me there to see the dogs and I was always reluctant (and shouldn't normally have been as I love dogs and usually am happy to go visit them). God keeps me out of trouble and I'm always thankful. I would have never forgiven myself if I had given Mikey to someone like that and they had broken his spirit. Seeing that poor cowering dog last night broke my heart. I can't imagine how her owners must feel.
The trainer told me what to look for in a true trainer: He reached into one pants pocket and brought out a tennis ball and a leash. He reached into the other pocket and brought out dog treats. He was also wearing a uniform and told me that he wears it so that the protection dogs are familiar with it and know immediately who he is. (I asked him if he was also wearing Kevlar underpants. He just laughed.)
Mikey will start school as soon as he's had his last puppy shots at the end of this month. He is not socialized around big dogs. (Totally embarrassed me last week at IVH and wouldn't stop barking. Eeek. I kept saying, "He's just a puppy. He's just a puppy." At 50 pounds/21 kilos, he doesn't look like a puppy.) He's great with humans (children and adults), small dogs and cats, and my goat, Paco. (They had a cat at the kennel who is used to the big dogs and Mikey walked right up to say hello, nose-to-nose. The cat hissed and Mikey flew back about 5 feet. LMAO!) Mikey is dying to play with the big dogs so I'm happy about it. I'm trying to arrange a reunion with Mikey's litter's brothers and sisters. From everything I've seen and heard about the breeder, he's a wonderful person with amazing dogs.
All this German Shepherd stuff has added so much activity to my life! More things to be thankful for. More blessings. More amazing people to meet. Mashallah.