Real Life Stories 1 - Penny and her Anxiety
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Sorry for not posting more frequently, but business has exploded! As the lead trainer here at Bandit's Buddies, that's great, but I knew I'd have to get back to building out our resources for every day people who don't need an immediate service. After all, the goal of Bandit's Buddies is to help our community through boosting the bond between dogs and their humans.
We're starting this new series highlighting behaviors from real dogs we're training, because over the past few months, I've had probably 70% of owners I'm working with at some point ask a question like "Well, do other dogs do that?" or "Is that how they're always going to be?" Hopefully these posts help answer some of those questions, or help people realize that:
1. Your problems with your dog are probably not unique and never seen before. Their behaviors may be way more common than you know!
2. Negative, aggressive, bad and just flat out annoying behaviors are treatable! Instead of "training" you're looking for more "behavior counter-conditioning", which is a specialty here at Bandit's Buddies.
3. Dogs don't develop bad behaviors because they're inherently bad dogs. It's a mix-up of communication or an environment issue that leads to bad behaviors.
Therefore, I'm here to help with real life stories/experiences! If any of these sound similar to your dog, and you'd like to hear how a professional can help solve some of your issues, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time!
Backstory for Penny:
Penny is around 5 years old and currently with Love Mutts Rescue, who Bandit's Buddies has become the go-to trainer for over the past few months. Penny had been with the rescue for a few months, because she didn't get along with other dogs. When meeting other dogs, she would snarl, bear teeth and lash out if they got too close.
She is a beautiful dog who looks like a short version of a German Shepherd. She loves to run, loves to snuggle on a couch and dances when you get her leash ready for a walk. Beautiful, fun, energetic, loving dog at heart.
Penny's Time with Bandit's Buddies:
So Penny came to spend a week as a Board & Train to help socialize her and see if she could be helped. The volunteers with Love Mutts weren't sure if she would ever be friendly around other dogs. Day 1 I immediately noticed her natural behavior when she was kept separate from the two resident dogs. She was nervous, scared and uncertain. She didn't have a lot of confidence, and she barely left the mat at the front door for the first couple hours.
However, when I touched her leash? Happy, energetic Penny was back! It was like a miracle! But really, she knew what was outside, and she knew she liked being outside. She didn't like the uncertainty of being inside a house that smelled like foreign dogs.
And then came the meet and greet. With the help of my girlfriend, we let the dogs meet outside away from the house. As soon as Bandit got close, Penny started showing her aggressive behaviors. She showed her teeth almost immediately, though her little tail was still wagging. The problem wasn't that she was aggressive. It's that she wasn't sure how to meet new dogs. After walking her through the process, she walked a mile loop with our two dogs as if it were nothing, but we had to be very careful to safeguard all of the dogs during the meeting process. With positivity and affirmation, Penny met her first two dogs without snapping!
Fast-forward a couple days later. Penny was on our couch (where that picture was taken), snuggling with the bacon blanket. Bandit popped up on the couch. Penny didn't growl, bark, lunge, bite, or any aggressive behaviors. She just snarled her teeth and looked at him. Again, she was uncertain and untrusting of Bandit at this point, but not aggressive and not acting poorly in any way. We helped correct the behavior as we saw it, and helped facilitate better meet and greet skills when other dogs came into her space.
Fast-forward again to Friday. Penny has been around Bandit and Merlin for 5 straight days. They're all on the couch, Penny rolling over and begging for tummy rubs, as Merlin loafs and Bandit chews his toy. Was she aggressive from the start? Not even close! Even though she barked and lunged at other dogs? Still no! The problem is that nobody had shown Penny that they're going to help and that they had her back. Therefore, she met uncomfortability with aggressiveness, thinking she had to protect herself. After being shown the opposite for 5 days, she no longer tried.
A couple months later, Penny now has a couple friends at the rescue that she plays with every day. She's still getting used to meeting new people and dogs, as it's always a process that can't be cured immediately, but she now knows that if she has a confident handler, she can be confident that she won't ever be in danger. She actually might be adopted soon!
Going from a timid, uncertain, aggressive dog to a relatively calm, confident and easier to manage dog takes time, effort, patience, love, positivity, consistency, and a well-prepared training plan from a behaviorist who knows what to look for and how to help. Penny is a recent success story because she had all of these things, and it just goes to show that aggressive behaviors don't mean an aggressive dog. More frequently, there's an underlying issue they're trying to show you, but that they're showing in dog language instead of human language. Once you can find the underlying message, treatment is much easier.
Have you had a similar instance or have a dog who's similar? Contact a Bandit's Buddies trainer today to help put together a plan to help! It worked for Penny and many others. You'd be amazed what a few targeted training or counter-conditioning sessions can do!
Thank you for reading. Look for more stories soon!