Dog Whisperer Trains Humans

Oh, and dogs too
BY: MARLA KING
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Professional dog trainer David Divjak teaches Coco to sit on San Pedrito beach.
 

Some say there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love dogs and those who don’t.

After spending time with professional dog trainer David Divjak, I would suggest, more accurately, I would amend that to the two types are good dog owners and bad dog owners. And the bad ones are responsible for anyone who doesn’t appreciate cuddly canines.

In the wake of recent attacks, dogs are now entirely banned from the seaside malecon in La Paz, and some are beginning to talk leash laws at popular beaches, much to the ire of Gringo dog owners who love letting their pooches roam free in the sand, but, there have been a number of vicious dog attacks.

Enter Divjak. With over 20 years experience, he has a CPDT-KA certification, which stands for certified professional dog trainer - knowledge assessed. His master trainer was the head of the US Transportation Security Administration’s high threat division training bomb-sniffing and rescue dogs.

Divjak and his wife have been coming to Todos Santos on a regular basis to oversee the building of their new home and will become full-time residents in March. It is his goal to bring awareness and support for responsible dog ownership in the community.

“There is a huge need for dog training in Todos Santos”, Divjak asserts. “Even very recently, some people’s method to control dogs was to poison them.” He acknowledges that there is a cultural divide between the way nationals and expats view dogs.

“I understand it is not my place to change culture, but I hope to bring awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering in solving the community’s problem with dogs. Gringos have to play their part. Don’t make excuses for your dog’s crappy behavior,” he states. “We are guests here and we should do everything to ensure our dogs aren’t adding to the larger problem”.

We all know THOSE people - who blow off their dog’s threatening actions as “just playing”, who allow constant barking, and leave their poop for someone to step in.

“It’s really arrogant of Gringos to have this attitude that because they’ve built this big house on the beach, it gives them the right to let their dogs run wild,” Divjak says.

He sites Boulder, Colorado as a model canine community. Instead of legislating to the lowest common denominator, dogs who pass a canine good citizen test are allowed off-leash in certain areas of the city.

“I want Todos Santos to become that place that is known for really well-trained dogs, and then hopefully the rest will follow.”

His long-term vision is to build a kennel and conduct doggie boot camp classes, then work with a Mexican intern who can bring training tools to the national community. Divjak also wants to use his skills to train a dog to detect turtle egg nests so they can be marked and monitored.

He has many helpful suggestions for those who want to be responsible owners while walking their pets on the beach. “They should be under voice control at all times, and even if the dog is off-leash, always carry one with you, as well as poop bags.”

He suggests a 6-foot leather leash is the best tool for any dog owner. If you have the unfortunate experience of dogs engaging in a fight, you can loop the leash around one of the dogs to pull it away. Never try to grab one of the dogs by the collar, as this is a great way to get bitten.

If you are carrying a water bottle, another tactic is to splash the dogs. This will usually startle them out of attack mode. Or lift one of them by their back legs and pull backwards.

Better yet, if you think there is even a remote chance your dog might bite, use a cage muzzle. A cage muzzle doesn’t hurt the dog and is 100% humane. It is the sign of a responsible dog owner.

I can personally attest to Divjak’s skill as a dog, or rather, human trainer. While our Coco, rescued here two years ago, is typically very mild-mannered, she developed the bad habit of barking incessantly at every passerby of our home. During an hour-long private training session, Divjak gave us very practical tools to regain control of our dog’s annoying behaviour.

His fee for a one-on-one lesson is $32, a pittance compared to obedience classes in the US and Canada. Contact David at dogtrainerdavid@gmail.com and visit his Facebook page under Todos Los Perros Dog Training.