Silvia Lin Hanick on Facebook
a month ago
06/26/2018, 11:06 AM
Our dog, Norbert, really puts the TERROR in terrier. He is about 1.5 years old, and, for the last si... more>>
Our dog, Norbert, really puts the TERROR in terrier. He is about 1.5 years old, and, for the last six months or so, started to get very leash reactive. He was fine at home with our older dog, fine off leash in all settings, and has never tried to hurt any people or dogs. Walking down the street, however, was a total horror show; Norbert would rage and bark and snarl at every dog on the street, completely losing his mind. I read every positive training guide I could find and watched hours of training videos. Sometimes, it felt like we were making progress, but mostly, my husband and I spent walks consumed with anxiety and embarrassment. We avoided the park and walked along sad warehouse streets hoping we wouldn't run into another dog.
Norbert came home from his 1-week board-and-train completely transformed. His scrappy, happy personality was unchanged, but it felt like we finally knew how to talk to each other. Norbert worked with Kate; she's such a patient, compassionate teacher who genuinely seemed to love him and GET him. Like, yes, Norbert is a bolt of lightning, but is also sweet and goofy and clever. Kate never blamed him (or us) for his behavior, and instead embraced his personality and treated the leash reactivity as a confidence issue. We got a training video where Norbert was working on ignoring other dogs by finding pieces of turkey in a ball pit, which is both hilarious and wonderful. The Canine Care team was also great. From their updates, we could tell that Norbert got a good mix of individual attention and group play time. They accommodated his home-cooked diet, and sent some amazing pictures of him playing his face off.
During his week-long camp, Norbert learned to walk on a head collar and a martingale collar. Our training materials focus on assessing the "level" of the approaching dog, and choosing one of 3-4 strategies for dealing with the situation. There are clear diagrams with instructions on when to click and reward -- two weeks out, I haven't had any issues keeping up with the foundation Kate set up for us. The first night back from camp, we walked through the park for the first time in months. We passed two dogs off leash, a few on leash, and a dog tied up outside a store; I got super emotional because it felt so great to enjoy hanging out, rather than being defensive and scared. A few weeks ago, we couldn't even make it up the block without a meltdown, but now I can't wait to spend a joyful summer taking long walks. Working with Instinct was such a worthwhile and fulfilling experience.