"Properly trained, man can be a dog's best friend" ~ Corey Ford
Today was my third meeting with a family whose young small dog had started to show fear aggression and biting people. Having four young children, this was of course not acceptable and made life a bit more stressful for everybody....people and dog!
The first time I meet them, the dog was barking and growling and would not settle down for the first 30 minutes and when she finally did, any movement from me would cause her to start right back up again. However after 1 1/2 hour, she was able to work for me and we ended on a good note.
Today was my third visit and yes she was barking when I came, but this time it was an excited "Ya, come on in and let's work". As a trainer , this is beautiful and almost music to my ears. Through training, this family has now established a trust and reconnection with their dog, helping her build up her confidence which now helps her deal better with new changes in her environment. By recognizing that this little dog's insecurities and lack of confidence was the trigger for her outburst, her family now understands what to do to help her. They now understand what pressure is for a dog, and the importance of making a dog make the decisions. Feeling in control makes a dog confident a lot faster. Through fun exercises, this little dog has learned nose touches, through legs, stepping up on books, playing fetch, drop it and a solid sit. She can now handle me going from sitting position, to stand up , to sit down on the floor again without feeling the need to bark. It might not sound like a lot or sound very difficult, but for this dog it means everything. She has regained confidence in herself and knows she now can make good decisions, which has helped spill over into other situations, which we didn't specifically train: Now the person at the coffee kiosk is not dangerous - instead this person might actually have a treat. Now the plumber coming in the house, might actually be kind a cool and wants to play with her.
Does this means, this little dog will accept all people? No, but her first initial reaction comes from a different emotional mind set and she is now able to make a decision without just reacting. She still has the right to say "no, I don't like you", and we need to respect that. But she is now using her brain to make a decision and that is our first HUGE step. We will still need to expose her to different situations, more people, new environments, and keep building and expanding her comfort zone, but this family is dedicated and I know this dog is a success story already.
So next time I ask you to perform some tricks and exercises, that might have absolutely nothing to do with your dog's current issue, just trust me. I have a plan :)
Thank you to all the dedicated pet parents out there. You help give your dogs a better life with less guesswork and less stress.
As a dog trainer and animal lover, my wish is to help educate the owners, so they can have a harmonious relationship with the animal(s) in their lives. A relationship based on knowledge, trust and respect.