Laurie, from Greatest American Dog, has been kind enough to answer questions from her Dogster fans. Before I get into the questions I just wanted to fill in a little background about Laurie that you may not know.
Laurie owns and runs Pup ‘N Iron, a canine fitness and learning center located in Fredericksburg, Virgina. This 11,000 sq. ft. facility is the realization of a life long dream come true for her.
Laurie has lived in this community for over 20 years and is happy and proud to provide a safe place where people can connect with their wonderful canine companions.
She has devoted her life to the love of dogs and feels very fortunate to have enjoyed a long professional career in dog training, behavior modification and general pet care spanning over 25 years.
In addition to training and behavior counseling, Laurie has served as a professional pet groomer, veterinary technician, and has been training pet dogs, as well as breeding and showing dogs in obedience, rally and conformation for many years.
Most importantly, Laurie feels honored to have helped hundreds of people bond with and develop loving, mutually respectful and healthy relationships with their dogs for a quarter of a century.
Coco & Kim: How hard was it for you to be away from your family during the filming of Greatest American Dog? We love Andrew and you are a pawsome trainer Laurie.
Laurie: It was extremely difficult for me to be away from our family during filming. In fact, I’d say that I was likely the most homesick of all, even more so than Bill.
My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year and he, our human son Bryan and our furkids are so very close. I was actually pretty depressed for the first few weeks and I’ll tell you, if it weren’t for having Andrew there with me I don’t know what I would have done.
Carol: What is the first thing you should teach a dog? Also can they be taught at any age?
Laurie: I think basic manners (not jumping up on people, sitting nicely for petting, not lunging and barking) is priceless and something every dog parent should teach his or her dog. You never want your dog to be a nuisance to anyone.
Secondly, every dog should come when called, should stay put when told, and should “leave it” when told to do so. These three behaviors can ultimately save a dog’s life.
And yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks, but it does take a little longer to break bad habits that have gone on a long time.
Dizzy & Harley: If you could change one thing about the competition, what would it be and why?
Laurie: If I could change one thing I would have wanted to know that they were ultimately looking for the relationship that grew the most and the most improved dog. I think most of us were led to believe that they were looking for relationships that were already deep and dogs that already were well trained.
I have a Dalmatian puppy named William who just turned 1 year old last month, and let me tell you, if I’d known they were looking for younger, less trained dogs, he would have been perfect! He is a pistol! I also would have liked to see more challenges in which the dog’s size were not a factor.
Arwen & Amadeus: In your Dogster bio it said Andrew started off with no hair and was the runt. He is one of many dogs you own. Why did you choose him to enter into the Greatest American Dog over your other fur babies?
Laurie: Again I was under the impression that they were seeking already well established and deep relationships. I’d worked the most with Andrew and my Dalmatian Tucker who recently crossed the rainbow bridge, so they were the two I considered to take to the competition.
Lisa & Lola: I was rooting for the both of you and let me tell you the outstanding job you both did. I admire the way you handle Andrew and his devotion to you was remarkable. How did you get to be on on America’s Greatest Dog? I have an amazing Sheltie and would love to be on the show any suggestions?
Laurie: I was one of the few contestants who actually just filled out and submitted the online application on cbs.com. As far as suggestions to be selected for any subsequent seasons, I’d say just be yourselves! That’s what we did!
Autumn: OMG! I was wondering, how old is Andrew? By the way, he`s adorable! How do you sign up for Greatest American dog?
Laurie: Thanks so much for your kind words! Andrew is now 6 years old. Keep watching the cbs website for any updates. We haven’t heard if they will be doing any more seasons, but if they do, I’m sure they’ll post it there.
Debbie: Laurie and Andrew, you were my favorites. How did you really feel about that challenge with the elephant and zip line?
Laurie: When you’re in a competition like this you really don’t have time to think about each challenge for too long. Actually Suzy the elephant was extremely docile, had been around dogs a lot, and to be honest, I really felt at least that challenge had a level playing field in that the dog’s size did not matter! So that was a huge plus for us!!
As far as the zip line goes, I knew Andrew wasn’t going to jump, so I was okay with it!
GSD Mom: First I’d like to say that it was a delight to see someone who was knowledgeable about dog training and using positive methods. You were very inspiring.
How different was your experience from what aired on TV? I know there is a ton of editing involved. Was what we saw as viewers representative of the actual experience?
Laurie: When watching a reality show people should always keep in mind that they take footage for almost 24 hours a day and then have to condense it down to 40 minutes an episode. That means A LOT of stuff is cut out and altered to fit a “story.”
It has to be entertaining. I guess watching people behave normally and be nice and respectful of each other is not very exciting, because that is what we were most of the time.
Valerie & Jax: We so admire your connection with Andrew. How long per day do you work with Andrew and your other dogs? Who was the toughest judge? What suggestions would you give to multi dog owners about keeping peace within the pack? How did you come to love dogs so much? We love you, Laurie and Andrew. You rock!
Laurie: I barely work with Andrew at all on a regular basis unless we are preparing for an obedience or rally trial. I work with my younger dogs more, maybe 20 minutes or so a day.
I wouldn’t categorize any of the judges as “tough,” per se, but confusing is a better word. I pretty much knew where Wendy Diamond was coming from at the beginning. She really was a big joker more than anything else and she was supposed to be the comic relief. As for Allan, he was the man in the middle, literally. But Victoria Stillwell was the most confusing. She made a lot of statements that for me, were in stark contrast to what is conducive to positive training.
In positive, dog-friendly methods, the whole idea of “challenging” and “pushing” a dog without being given the proper modifications and/or acclimation time is completely contraindicated. I found it very unsettling that Victoria not only expected but encouraged this from us.
In a multi-dog family, I feel there needs to be order and limits set to help the pack exist harmoniously. Humans need to always monitor interactions and know when it’s time to step in. I also think it’s important to give each dog individual time and attention so that he or she bonds with the humans as well as with his furblings.
I have loved dogs for as long as I can remember. My mother tells me that even as a toddler when riding in my stroller I would stare at every dog that came my way.
Carrie: I have been wondering if only the first place winner got a prize or if maybe the top six were given prizes or maybe the top 2 or 3. I also thought possibly all of the contestants that made it to the television show might get a prize according to how long they were on the show.
Laurie: Unfortunately there was only a prize for the ultimate winner.
A big thanks to Laurie and Andrew for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer all our questions. We also extend our deepest condolences over the loss of her beloved Dalmatian, Tucker.