Our rescue dog Snowy, a Jindo-Collie mix, came to us from a home where she did not have much socialization with people or other animals. We knew we’d have some challenges, but we weren’t quite prepared to address all of the issues we would need to face.
We discovered she was frightened of men, and for the first week, she would cower whenever Jim came near her. She also wasn’t hitting it off with our two other dogs as we were breaking up fights between them regularly in the first few months. She wouldn’t cuddle with us, preferring to spend her time staring out the windows and barking at everything she saw: people, dogs, cars, falling leaves, insects–it didn’t matter. When we let her out in the yard, she would bark violently at the neighbors and their animals and would try to jump the fence to get at them. She would lunge and bark at people we would see on our walks, and would become very agitated when people visited the house. The final straw for us was when she nipped a would-be petsitter who was visiting. We knew we needed to do something.
We reached out to Mary, who had us come to her training site for an evaluation. Snowy was extremely nervous and was having problems focusing. We discussed Snowy’s apparent fear aggression, a comprehensive plan to address the problem, and worked with her during the session. Mary’s recommendations and follow up provided avenues to make her feel safer and to desensitize her to triggers that would provoke a reaction. Mary also recommended that we consult a veterinarian to discuss putting her on medication to help the training be more successful.
We have been following the plan for about 5 months now and are so happy with the results. Snowy is slowly learning to trust people. She’s doing well on our walks, ignoring people she passes on the street and dogs that bark at her from behind fences. The best part is that she’s starting to warm up to visitors coming over! On a couple of recent visits with strangers, she actually went up to them on her own to ask to be petted and gently took food out of their hands. She now ignores activity in our neighbors’ yards, preferring to go out and explore instead. Although she is still interested in what’s going on outside the windows when she’s in the house, she spends much more time relaxing and the nuisance barking has decreased by about 80 percent.
The relationship between her and the other dogs is improving as well; she’ll allow the others to lie down next to her and she’ll occasionally play with them. And when she’s feeling stressed, she even puts herself in one of her “safe places” Mary recommended we create without being told!
When we come home each day, Snowy jumps up and down and squeals with excitement to see us before showering us with kisses. I think she’s finally happy, and so are we. We couldn’t have gotten here without Mary’s help and encouragement along the way.
Thank you so much for everything!
Debby and Jim S. from Stafford, VA
Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
Elite Fear Free Certified Professional
Montgomery County, MD
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