Rescued Dogs Can Make A Difference In Other Lives
In July of 2018 I saw a dog listed as needing a rescue. She looked a bit scared and I could see this in her picture.
The plea for a rescue and I stepped up to pull this dog. Little did I know her story but did read a small detail about her.
One evening a person walked up to an officer and handed her over and said the dog was found. Someone just handed this dog over to an officer. There was no problem until the person left and then she become reactive.
That is when her being reactive became a problem. I was told about this and understood she was scared. I could see all this happening in events that just happened in her life. She was in a new environment and feeling stressed.
I traveled a few hours to pick her up. I was told then she could not be removed from the crate she was in because she was a flight dog. A dog that wants to flight is wanting to run away. So this was a risk and took the crate with her in it.
I got her back to Sheboygan, WI., and took the crate with her in it and opened up the door. I waited and sat on the ground tossing treats. I would stand up and walk away and again tossing treats. I wanted her to come out of the crate but I could see she was very scared as I looked at her she was far back in the crate curled up tight. I could see worry on her face and I could see tears. This dog was so stressed and all I wanted her to do is to come out.
The moment finally happened and it was five hours later. I remember the most unusual sound come from her. It sounded like a scream and the best way to describe it would be like a person in a movie that needs to scream but holds it in because of fear of being heard. I think most of us have watched a movie like this. It was a cry from deep down within.
I slowly and I do mean very slowly started to make friends with her. I wanted her to come to me. She came closer and then went back under a chair. She again was curled up and so unsure of the world around her. I could see tears in her eyes. I wanted to comfort her but knew this was not going to be possible. I could make things even worse and cause more stress.
It was late in the evening and she finally came to me. I tossed treats to her and then next she was sniffing me and then backing off. I knew not to push her over threshold but to keep going very slow.
It was time to let her rest and she did willingly go back into her crate and I tossed treats in there with her. I let her rest for the night and just wanted her to breathe and relax at this time.
The next day I opened up the crate and she came out and looked at me and then walked up to me and took treats from my hand. That was the point she and I connected. She learned a positive association with me.
As I continued to assess her I noticed she become very fearful around my husband. I soon learned she was reactive around other people, moving objects, sounds and more.
This dog that is estimated five months of age is full of fear. I know that fear and stress can lead to aggression.
Fear of people and this is the first time I had ever come across a dog that was fearful of people. I had seen fear of other dogs and objects but never people.
This is when I started picking up more studies to help her. I was reading behavior modification books and thinking this all out. I was going to help this dog and learn from this.
I immediately started training her basic obedience. She did a great job! I found out she is a quick learner. I then started on impulse control with distance and duration. She did a great job with this too. I am so happy!!! I then got out the agility tunnel and this is when I found out she was fearful of the tunnel. I pulled the tunnel close together and my goal was to get her to just get through the small hole. She managed to go through and I just stayed at that level of just going though the hole.
Months had past and soon it was October and she was capable of being around my husband but she was still scared. My husband is a very tall man and big with a beard. I continued with my behavior modification plan.
I knew with her problems there was a risk of her being returned to rescue if she did get adopted. She was fearful of moving objects and people. She is not quite the dog someone would want to adopt. I took her under my wing and continued working with her.
I introduced her to each one of our own dogs. I found out she has great dog skills and each dog accepted her. She was now in with our three dogs.
I thought often about her having problems with fear of people.
She remined me of a dog that might possibly had been with her litter but was never socialized around people. I could be wrong or I might be correct but I will never know the facts. We noticed her dew claws had been removed. She is a beautiful color and come from Elgin, ILL., Was she a dog that had been purchased and hidden away for months with no socializing?
In 2019 she went through the agility tunnel, I am so happy to see this. She can walk nice on leash too. Sure she has moments of being reactive to moving objects but for the most she enjoyed her walks. She learned to wait at crosswalks and I was happy to see her progress.
I am a certified dog trainer and I do take on cases where dogs are reactive. I have worked with dogs in rescue that had problems with other dogs and it can take time to help them. This is a very slow process.
I started taking Kayla into sessions and found she was doing good. Kayla the rescued dog is now capable of helping other dogs just by being in view. In my behavior modification I start teaching the client first what is needed and then we take it session by session then bring in a real dog. Timing and distance are important with this plan.
Kayla the rescued dog is now helping in sessions with dogs that are reactive to other dogs. Kayla has progressed and now can be around moving objects and each object I have worked with her in the most positive manner possible. It took a very slow move of a broom and rewarding for the good behavior.
Rescue dogs can do much, when given the chance. It takes commitment, timing and understanding to not go over threshold.
Dogs can succeed with positive reinforcement training.
Mecca Curtice, CCDT, CTDI
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