Meet Ally Murdock. Ally is a full time trainer and passionate owner of Onward Bound Incredible Dog Training in Wisconsin. What makes Ally’s story interesting is the philosophy that she cultivates in her work and how it has created so much success over her career. Ally’s main goal when it comes to training is that she prides herself on her ability to positively motivate the dogs that she trains. It is a uniquely acquired skill in an industry where discipline has been the long time norm for training.
That is why Ally instead chooses to take on a much more positive reinforcement role because as things have begun shifting in the industry so has the ideology and availability of positive reinforcement. Ally personally uses positivity to strengthen the bond between dogs and the people that love them because she doesn’t believe that discipline and other forms of chastising are the only answer. She instead believes in the aspects that can come from channeling the right motivation properly. Because when channeled properly the affection it can create is a truly special bond unrivaled to anything else offered through training.
One instance of Ally’s work that was notable came in the middle of last year when a man named John contacted her about training a couple of his dogs. Although she did not necessarily know it, Ally was in for a big challenge with this task. One thing she was unaware of however was just how wild and anxious these dogs were in the beginning. One of the dogs, Chopper, had been previously living on a chain and was bounced around from home to home. These factors can create a multitude of unwanted behaviors and potential aggression towards people, even family members.
Realizing this detail, Ally went to work on trying to influence Chopper’s behavior through impulse control, relaxation and training with basic household manners. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy however. At first when she began working with him she could see his temperament was almost feral. He frantically paced the room, jumped on family members, gnashed his teeth and barked at anything that moved or made a sound. It was for this reason that she made it a point to work with Chopper every week for six weeks.
After beginning her work Ally instantly knew that this was where she wanted to be. During her first session she bonded with the whole family and realized what an incredible group of people she was working with given the fact that they wanted to put themselves through this training with Chopper. It was also from this first session that Ally began to implement her tenants of impulse control, relaxation and training with basic household manners. It definitely wasn’t simple at times though. There were points where Chopper became almost aggressive as Ally tried teach him. At times Chopper even jumped onto her lap and began barking in her face. Determined however, Ally did not give up. She continued working with Chopper and by the end of the first session she began to make a small break through.
It wasn’t until her second session that Ally began to see a larger transformation in Chopper’s behavior. The formerly aggressive behavior that greeted her only a week ago had began to fade away and was replaced with a more thoughtful, calm and focused demeanor as she had instructed the family to work with Chopper in between visits. From his first visit to the second he became easier to handle on a leash and was able to be taken out for more exercise now. Reinforcing the positive principles that Ally taught him, Chopper was to be able to finally relax. That is where the door opened in subsequent visits allowing Ally to integrate routines of relaxation into Chopper’s daily life making him much more sociable with his family.
While working with Chopper Ally was also working with John’s other dog named Gage who was a young puppy and an absolute handful. His behavior could be described as nothing other than wild. Gage would wake John up in the middle of the night, pee in the house and latch onto Chopper’s neck to the point of pain. These were only some of his unruly behaviors. Having seen the situation at hand Ally’s first decision was to find Gage’s natural schedule. What she meant by that is that she wanted to establish a natural rhythm for Gage because given his behavior he was not getting as much sleep as he needed to get. Puppies his age need around 18-19 hours a day and he was getting less than half of that.
With careful planning Ally managed to devise a plan to teach Gage how to self soothe in his crate and it began to work wonders. Through the self soothing exercises Ally was able to help positively reinforce behaviors which were much more accepted while adjusting him to a more suitable puppy lifestyle. Things such as rewarding quiet behavior and establishing a working routine helped to give Gage a base from where he could finally learn a regular schedule.
It is because of moments like these that inspire Ally to continue doing what she loves. It is the mixture of personal growth that she gets to see in the dogs and the helping of others that allow her to continue reaching out in the community. She has given so many families the opportunity to connect with their dogs in ways thought previously unimaginable. Taking Gage and Chopper for example, Ally was able to change their behaviors completely. The best part about it is that she did this all without using any force, fear or intimidation. Instead she simply used passion, positivity and a bit of love to change her trainee’s lives forever.