I must have read at least 10 books on dog's behavior, and how to train her to get over her fears. I also hired another highly accredited, expensive, dog trainer, who came to my house to give Mandy and I personal lessons. Her methodology used food as a reward and distraction, so I was constantly walking around with a handful of food which could be anything from biscuits, hotdogs, bacon or cheese.
The problem was when Mandy was scared, it didn't matter if I held a steak in front of her, she didn't want to eat. I spent a great deal of time with her, and it felt like every moment I wasn't working, I was doing something to try to help her. I work long hours, and I really don't have as much time as I would need for this training method to work (if it would work at all), and not seeing any results, I was beginning to get very frustrated.
I was also told that when you properly train a dog, the dog starts to appreciate you, gives you more affection, and wants to be with you... but not Mandy. She wouldn’t even leave her crate. She didn’t care if I was at home or not, and she definitely didn't trust me to protect her when we ran into the "scary" men or children while out on our walks. I got a dog for the great companionship, but obviously neither Mandy nor I was getting what we wanted or needed from our relationship. Then one day, Mandy's fears started to come out as aggression.
She would still run from people, but now the hair on her tail and back would be fully raised as she would begin barking at them with a very scary bark. That was when I realized that something had to change. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I would get into trouble, and either have to put her down, or return her to a shelter. Neither of those options was appealing. Even my parents told me that I should consider bringing her back to the shelter because she was an impossible case. I knew that the next trainer I would try would have to be the last, because it was too expensive and I was running out of hope that Mandy would ever be the dog I had hoped she would be. Then I found Canine Magic... I called Terry and met with her. On that first day, I told her that if this training didn't work, I would have to consider returning Mandy to the shelter.
When she suggested I try the remote-collar, I was scared to try it with Mandy because I didn't want to hurt her. I didn't want to punish Mandy for her fears; I just wanted to help her. Terry made me realize that I was not punishing her, and proceeded to have me test it out on my hand at the level we would generally be using on Mandy. I then realized it was not pain, but just a little discomfort. I still had some doubts about this really working, because everything else I had tried failed, but watching how Terry's dogs responded to her, and knowing that I had to do something, I decided to give it a try. For some reason as I was driving home after that first meeting, I just knew that Terry would be the one to help me…
I'm not going to lie; the first two weeks of the training were the hardest two weeks of my life. Mandy was struggling with the new training, and she was confused by the change in control (from her to me), but Terry was always there. She would listen to me cry to her over the phone while expressing my fears and discomfort. She urged me to hang in there and I’m glad that I listened and made it through, because after those two weeks, Mandy became a pleasure...
Her fears are not gone, and she prefers not to be anywhere near children if at all possible, but now she listens to me! Even when she is scared, if I tell her to come to me, she does. She now uses me as a shield, which lets me know she trusts that I won't let her get hurt. She no longer stays in her crate in the evening, but now prefers to share the couch as we sit and cuddle together. And now I have a happy greeter waiting when I get home from work each day. Mandy knows all the important "etiquette" rules; she heels; sits; lies down; waits; etc., and she learned all this through Terry's personal sessions and classes. While she might not be the pro in the class, I'm proud when I go, and often think about where we started.
Now Mandy is a pleasure to have around, and even my parents are enjoying her. They now tell me that she is a very sweet, great, dog, and are even willing to babysit her!!! Mandy is a new dog, and I it was well worth those two difficult weeks because of the life of happiness that we now have. I truly do have a best friend, and I have Terry to thank for it.
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