Vero Beach, Florida
Hello Daniel, I adopted a Springer spaniel from ESRA (English Springer Spaniel Rescue) in January of this year. JD (which stands for Just Dog) had a few issues but was mostly a good boy I was told. We brought him home only to find out he needed a lot of attention and discipline.
JD was very nervous. He had been a stray when found, and he lived in his foster home for several months. I was told that JD did not like his new 'foster dad', especially when he wore white t-shirts or when he took off his belt. He also was aggressive toward other dogs, and sometimes other men. However, he was fine with kids, his foster mom and me. I must mention that he is an extremely handsome guy (as you can see from his picture!).
My boyfriend was nervous and wanted me to send JD back to his foster home. Of course, being a Springer lover, I fell in love with JD as soon as I saw him, so I did not want to give up so fast. Someone had told me about your book, SitStayFetch: Secrets to Dog Training so I decided to look for it online. When I realize I could download it, I opted for this. I began reading and finding good ideas on what I could do immediately to try to correct some of JD's bad behaviors.
One thing I did immediately was to stop allowing JD to sleep next to my bed at night. He thought he was to be the leader of the pack and would sometimes climb up in the bed with me. I had to show him that he was not, so I put up a nice-sized crate for him in the dining room and he started sleeping in there. He actually liked going in his crate, it gave him a sense of security that he sorely needed.
Another thing I did with JD was to begin walking him with a gentle leader several times a day. I trained him to walk by my side, to sit and to walk when I began walking. He needed a firm and consistent mom and I guess I was the one! We still take daily walks and I make him work for every treat he gets from me or the kids. He has become a wonderful pet over the past 7 months but it has not been easy.
JD is now a trusted family member, a wonderful watch dog, and a playful happy guy. He has made a complete 180, and I owe it to your expertise and to the help of a trainer I hired in March. She works on many of the same principles that you/your book does, mainly using strong and persistent techniques to break bad habits. Showing the dog that he is not the boss, is key.
Thank you for your e-newsletters, too. I really enjoy these. Sometimes the problems are similar to mine and JD's, sometimes not. Your answers are always clear and intelligent. I believe you are helping many people and their dogs to become compatible friends-the way it should be!