Chicago Journal: The West Loop Whisperer

How to make a dog behave
Call the West Loop dog whisperer

By SIGRID LUPIERI
Medill News Service

On a recent day, one of Chicago’s best-behaved dogs stepped out of his owner’s car and acknowledged his surroundings with a dignified glance, ignoring the patch of green space nearby and the squirrels that scurried through it. He sat on the sidewalk and waited for orders.

Ami Moore came around from the driver’s side, and gave a few short but friendly commands. Her 13-year-old black poodle Dundee rose up and followed obediently at her heels as they walked together down the street.

Moore and Dundee, residents of the West Loop, have forged a bond using through what Moore calls “dog whispering.” She doesn’t just use the technique on her own dogs either. Doggie Do Right, her canine training company, offers a variety of dog services to a nationwide client base. Dog owners will hire her to teach their pets to obey commands, settle down at home and act calmly in public. Moore does it without bribes like food and other treats.

“Dog whispering is just living like a dog,” she said. “I can fix everything, except aggression, in two hours.”

Moore has been training dogs for 15 years. She left a career as a teacher and occupational therapist to move into the field full-time. An ordained minister in the Universal Life Church and a Native American medicine woman, Moore tries to bring all her skills together to help troubled dogs.

Dog owners who hire Moore often treat their pets “like emotion comfort food,” she said, causing problems like hyperactivity, aggression, chewed furniture and constant barking. A dog smothered with affection can suffer from separation anxiety when an owner just picks up the keys to the door.

“These dogs can’t exist in a modern world,” Moore said. “When you leave them alone, they feel like they’re going to die.”

As with children, spoiling a dog can stress the pet and owner’s relationship too.

“If owners don’t set down rules and consequences, dogs become like Paris Hilton,” she said.

Moore often makes house calls to do her trainings. She first establishes a presence-“I’m just like an old Catholic nun,” she said-standing tall and staring at the dog with a stern face and eyes.

She will separate the animal from its owner. Then she begins “teaching the dog English” so they’ll recognize basic commands needed in a typical urban environment and obey them. Most dogs, she said, only know a few words-like “No,” “Bad,” “Damn it” and “Stop.”

The second step involves teaching an owner to communicate with the dog, Moore said. Through psychological dominance called “alphatude,” she teaches the owner to become the dominant partner in the relationship with the dog.

Moore says the process is similar to that of educating children, though humans eventually grow up and become independent.

“Luckily for us, dogs never reach 18,” Moore said. “They’re like a two-year-old with superhuman powers.”

She uses tuning forks and an “energy adjuster” massager to relieve tension in dogs. At the end of the training, the owners should feel comfortable and confident with their pets.

Wilmette dog owner Nancy Sublette, one of Moore’s clients, said her family has a dachshund called Mr. Weiner who was overly energetic, prone to chewing up the family’s shoes.

“It was actually ruining our life,” she said. “[Mr. Weiner] was eating everything.”

After a year of attending puppy training sessions, Sublette said she’s more aware of dog psychology, and the chewing problems have stopped.

Moore said that with the right training, dogs can become almost human and are just fun to have around.

“You can take the biggest, baddest, meanest dog and you can restore harmony to him and the people,” she said.

Comments

  1. Now I know who the brainy one is, I’ll keep lokoing for your posts.

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