Persey graduated from her training sessions with Kari today. As we said goodbye for now to Kari, and her dog Paisley, there were definitely a few tears all around.
We adopted Persey, a pure-bred golden retriever, at 6 years young. Initially Persey was skittish and shy, had a history of severe fear aggression with other dogs, and being overly eager with humans, greeting them with jumping and a bit too much enthusiasm. She came to us already on anxiety medications, and had already had punishment-based training with a shock collar. On her second day with us, our friends arrived to visit with their dog, Gryphon. Although wearing a soft muzzle, Persey was out of control, and immediately went after Gryphon. That’s when we knew we needed professional help. We were determined to help Persey feel safe and happy in her new home and be able to have a few dog friends.
We hired Kari and she came to visit Persey for our first session. She diagnosed Persey has having intense fear aggression and anxiety. Partly related to genetics, prior training methods, inappropriate food, and not the right medications. On the first visit Kari came up with a plan for change in meds, food, brain exercise, and routine. She taught us how to keep Persey safe and distracted when encountering other dogs. She recommended no attempts to meet other dogs until her confidence increased and her anxiety decreased. She said it might take many months or years, which was hard for us to hear, as we are not the most patient people. We were anxious to have Persey make friends with Riley, our niece’s dog and frequent visitor.
During her next several visits, Persey was able to meet Paisley, Kari’s chocolate lab, and started gaining confidence with her. It was so great the first time Paisley and Persey could walk down the road together. She quickly settled into her new daily routine, started exploring more with lots of tail wagging, and we were in love. Next came her introduction to Riley (a large, leggy chocolate lab). Using the same patience and confidence building, anxiety reducing approach, they were soon fast friends, and able to walk together without problem. With Kari’s suggestion we introduced them inside by using a pet-gate to separate them. Imagine our delight when recently they were able to be together in our kitchen, gate and leash free!
|Persey and Riley|
Gryphon returned for another play date: what a difference! Using the same techniques again, there was no lunging or aggression. They made friends after a few minutes, and down the trail we went. Since then they have been able to walk together, and Persey hosted Gryphon for a lunch date in our kitchen that went off without a hitch.
We know now that with the right structure, routine, and cues, Persey can enjoy a confident and happy life, and have a few best friends forever. It did take several months, but because we went slow and steady, we were successful. Thanks to Kari and Paisley for showing the way, we couldn’t have done it without them!