Dog blogger Lindsay Pevny of Cutler says she sees a sparkle in the eyes of her Chihuahua/miniature pinscher mix, Matilda, when she is learning something new.
It wasn’t always that way.
“Before I kind of got into positive training, anytime I yelled at her, it just did not work,” Pevny says. “She would get really scared. She’s kind of fragile, a little bit sensitive, but really on the inside, she’s just so smart and so sweet.”
Matilda is the star of LittleDogTips.com, a blog that follows the triumphs and tribulations of Pevny and Matilda’s journey using force-free dog training. The blog is a finalist in the best new pet blog category for BlogPaws’ Nose-to-Nose Pet Blogging and Social Media Awards. The 22-year-old is one of 48 finalists in 12 categories to be selected in “Oscar-award” style by a panel of industry professionals. The winners will be announced during a conference in Arizona June 23-25.
Pevny is excited to see her blog reach more people. She hopes her message of positive reinforcement over punishment will help more people become better parents – whether their child be human or Chihuahua. She says doing things like spraying a dog with a water bottle can have a really negative, long-lasting effect.
“That shuts the dog up, but on the inside, the dog is still scared, and it can manifest into other behavior problems,” Pevny says. “So I hope I inspire people to find creative ways to make the dog want to behave.”
She says dogs learn to tune out the word “no,” especially puppies, who tend to hear it relentlessly.
“It becomes a meaningless nothing to the dog, and they learn to ignore it. So instead of telling the dog no, telling them what not to do, you have to tell them what to do instead.”
By congratulating Matilda when she does something right, the little dog has learned a number of tricks, including “spin” and “curtsy,” and can ring a bell to alert her humans when she needs to use the bathroom.
Pevny learned about positive dog training by reading articles online and interviewing professional dog trainers. Her fiancé, Alberto Gonzalez, is proud of her.
“I think she’s doing something new and evolutionary, even,” the 27-year-old says. “Growing up, I’ve seen the way people treat their dogs – hitting them, tying them up – and she opened my eyes to this whole different type of training. Just love and care for the dog.”