A friend from school contacted me who lived locally to me, to be precise it was Duston. My friend used Facebook to contact me and this was the message I received. Some bits are missing but it will give you a general idea.
“I would like to enquire about arranging a one to one session with you. My mum has recently re-homed a three year old male german shepherd who we were told was good with other dogs, and for the first two weeks he was, however all of a sudden he started having a complete melt down if he saw another dog whilst on a walk. We know he was attacked whilst out with his previous owner by a dog that was off the lead, but thats pretty much all we know, except that he has done training and even agility previously. Mum is his third owner and before coming to her he was in kennels for a month, which he hated.
He hasn’t been out for a proper walk for a little while because mum hurt her back last time she took him, when he was literally jumping around on sight of a cat of all things, but he seems happy in the house and garden and completely uninterested in going out. I have tried to walk him for her, but although we had a lovely walk together the first weekend she had him, he now freaks out if I try and take him out without her. He doesn’t like her to be out of sight.
Mum is an experienced owner and can manage him in the house. He is very affectionate and bouncy, but is gradually calming down. We really do want to get him out for regular walks though, and the ultimate goal is to get him to mix with and spend time in my garden with my four and a half year old male GSD when the better weather comes.”
The Walk Was All About Moving Things On
So me and Catherine (my assistant) arrived at the property to see what I could do. I was very familiar with the family and having received a detail email regarding shadows behaviours I could carry out assessments of behaviours without to much history taking. That out of the way it was time to look at the dog walking equipment used with shadow. A suggested change in setup and of we went. Now although shadow hadn’t been out due to his owner receiving minor injury from the last walk and her daughter taking him out for her, in actual fact it meant that Shadow hadn’t been dog walking for nearly two weeks. I wasn’t going to dwell on that, in fact in spurred me on to make sure I improved a lot of his behaviours allowing future problem free walking as much as I could in this one visit.
Shadow Went Into A High State Of Anxiety
We started walking, we had lost the light (roll on the summer time I say) I was really hoping to meet other dog walkers though. I knew the neighbourhood really well having grown up around the area. As we walked up the street, Shadow went into a high state of anxiety, just like what was explained in the email. He couldn’t bare the fact to be away from his owner, even though she was just metres away from me. I worked with his behaviour in the moment, demonstrating to her daughter, what to do if she was to experience the same behaviours. What also triggered shadows behaviour to go into high state of anxiety was any dog barking, memories of his bad experience? No time to dwell though, and with patience and displacement techniques we were able to proceed.
It Can Tear Your Heart Apart
A dog can give out such a high pitched whaling sound in moments like these, it can so intensive it can tear your heart to pieces. If you allow yourself to be drawn in emotionally in moments like these, you will have no chance of helping the dog in the moment. Stay positive and calm!
From nowhere a dog walker appeared, no reactions from Shadow. Myself working with him from the other trigger moment had an affect with Shadow when he spotted the other dog. Well done Shadow!
The walked continued, and with every step Shadow relaxed. Upon returning to his home environment it was important to talk about the psychology of Shadows behaviour. More importantly it was equally important for the family to implement my leadership programme to continue Shadows progress. I then received this…
Then I Received This..!
Hi Chris. Just thought I’d give you a quick update on Shadow. Well, I think its Shadow..he’s a different dog already! He’s so much calmer on entering the house and he will quite happily be in another room from mum. He’s doing really well. We’re taking the walks slowly but again the improvement is quite surprising. Last night we encountered another dog! The other dog barked and Shadow was just about to start, but we got him back in the zone. Its all very encouraging. We are hoping to come along to you FREE walks soon. Thank you
Hopefully One Day I Will Re-home A Dog
It was lovely to hear the progress made in such a short period of time. Taking on any re-homed dog can be challenging and all credit should go to the owners who take on rescue dogs. My heart and admiration for these people makes them truly amazing people. Hopefully one day I to can take on a rescue dog, but for now I have to settle with just the four dogs of my own. Well three as my daughter is really Fred’s owners, but secretly I consider him mine.
Need Some Help?
If you want some help, advice or talk dog behaviour, just ring the number on the right or alternatively use the links at the tip of the page to contact me on through email.