Six weeks ago, Abby was an acutely fearful dog who was completely unable to cope with even the smallest aspects of daily life. She shut down and tried to run away from her triggers whenever she could, and she couldn’t relax for even 10 seconds. When she couldn’t avoid by running away, Abby was extremely reactive to her triggers, barking, growling, and lunging at them in an effort to make them go away. Getting into her owner’s vehicle on her own was impossible; she had to be picked up and put into it. On the leash, she pulled like a fiend and she zig-zagged all over the place. She had no structure, no rules, no boundaries, no trust, and no confidence… Her stress levels were dangerously high.
Today – six weeks later – Abby gets into her owner’s vehicle easily and without hesitation, her leash pulling and weaving has significantly decreased, and though she still tries to avoid some situations, Abby is learning to trust that Cindy has things under control; she looks to her more often for direction and guidance.
Abby’s impulse control has improved significantly, as has her ability to focus – and stay focused – on Cindy during training exercises. She has also made phenomenal progress practicing the “do nothing” exercise when other people are in her home. She is still nervous and fearful around strangers, but rather than automatically defaulting to flight, Abby is making the choice more often to stay and to trust Cindy.
Abby and Cindy have come a very long way over these past six weeks. They still have a long way to go, but Cindy has been doing a phenomenal job practicing and reinforcing rules and boundaries, giving Abby the structure she needs, creating, building, and nurturing confidence and trust, and becoming a strong, calm but assertive leader. It has been my great privilege to be chosen to share in their journey, and I look forward to our follow-up basics lessons over the next couple of weeks.
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on.