Tessa (pictured with her mom Chrystal)
Tessa started her life as a bait dog for dog fighting. Bait dogs are used to get fighting dogs worked up before a fight. The bait dog is held in the middle of the ring. The fighting dogs are allowed to lunge at the bait dog, but not actually reach it, increasing their frustration and adrenaline levels. Tessa was saved when the fighting ring was broken up. Crystal adopted Tessa knowing that Tessa feared other dogs and tried to work with her. Tessa's needs were obviously greater than basic socialization. Chrystal called us. The first time we tried to walk Tessa out of the house, with another dog within view, Tessa lunged so hard on the leash that she backflipped and nearly strangled herself!
We started Tessa on an anti-anxiety diet and began her on supplementation so she was able to handle stress more effectively. We rigged a dual-leash system attached to her head collar and body harness, so she could not strangle herself when she panicked. We gradually tried to introduce non-threatening dogs from a great distance, while heavily treating and praising Tessa. After two sessions with little to no improvement, we changed our tactics.
We had Chrystal bring Tessa to reactive dog class. Tessa would sit off in the far corner of the yard and watch the other dogs interacting. She would still explode, but at least we could keep her from hurting herself. During the first class she was able to get within 10 feet of Ranger (whom she had seen before at her house). During the second class, Tessa made a boyfriend! She shocked everyone by walking right up to a large American Pit Bull Terrier. She sniffed him and let him sniff her. Tessa followed Hank around the yard. During her third class, she again walked right up to Hank as if they were long-lost buddies,
Tessa still has a long way to go with other dogs, but she will going on chaperoned dates (walks around the neighborhood) with her new boyfriend Hank. As long as Hank is with her, she will allow other dogs to pass 10-15 feet away.
Update on Tessa: Tessa has been progressing quickly. She is now walking up to dogs in class to sniff them. She is so excited to come to Miss Marie's and make new friends in class. We are hopeful that some day she will be able to actually play with other dogs.
Most Improved Dog March 2019
Bruce has a history of barking at strangers, especially men, and other dogs. He would lunge at visitors to his home. With an herbal supplement, acupressure and compression therapy, Bruce started to calm down. Thanks to help from Ranger, Moira, Buddy and Benji, Bruce learned to not only ignore other dogs walking by, but to actually greet appropriately. Bruce is still working on his "people skills", but can now walk up to strangers and accept treats. In three sessions, and a lot of hard work by his humans, Bruce has come a very long way. He even visited family members and made friends with a little girl.
Most Improved Dog February 2019
Kiva came from a shelter after having been relinquished by her family that "didn't have time to work with her". She was adopted by a wonderful mom who has plenty of time to work with and love her. Kiva was afraid of all people, sounds, and most of the furniture in the house. Slowly she is coming out of her shell, exploring the house and discovering that Marie and her friends bring "cookies." Last week, Kiva made her first foray into the dreaded basement and discovered it was a pretty cool (literally) place to hang out with mom.
Most Improved Dog January 2019
Louie began his education with CF Behavior after trying to bite his vet. He thought that biting and growling were the best way to get out of doing what he didn't want to do. Then he met Miss Marie! At their first meeting he lunged at her, and another trainer pulled him and had him lie down in front of her. He learned quickly to respect Miss Marie, and more slowly his humans. With persistence and lots of treats, Louie slowly accepted that walking with a head collar was not so horrible, and he could even make other doggy friends. Listening to the humans actually got him a lot of unexpected rewards. At his last vet visit, Louie was a perfect gentleman!