Kersten has had Khaleesi since a pup and was lucky enough to be able to bring her to work everyday. She worked at a veterinary emergency center and worked extremely long hours. Khaleesi had a lot of dog and human friends at the time, but with time slowly started to change. Now she has quite the fear aggression. She has been in a couple of fights with dogs and attacked the roommate’s cat. She fence fights with the dog next door and tries to tear through the wooden fence. Kersten unfortunately is currently unemployed because she is going through a severe depression. She wants to be able to live happily with Khaleesi again because her aggression adds a lot of stress and tension to her life. Khaleesi needs to learn to have positive interactions again so she can realize dogs and humans can be fun to be around again.
For our first lesson with Khaleesi, we worked on the heel, sit and stay commands. These commands are all vital in helping Khaleesi with socialization. Whenever Khaleesi meets a new person on a walk or at home we are going to do a structured introduction where Khaleesi holds a sit and stay in front of her new friend. However, if she gets nervous or starts barking her mom heel’s her to help calm her back down and get her refocused mentally. Once she is able to hold her sit and stay command without barking or acting nervous we are going to progress to the next phase of being able to be pet by new friends.
For lesson two we started progressing Kahleesi by working on commands while on a walk. At home it is much easier for her to obey commands because it is an environment she is familiar with and has few distractions. Outside is phase 2 of getting Kahleesi comfortable in public settings. Walks expose her to new distractions such as strangers, dogs, squirrels and countless others in the comfort of her own neighborhood before taking the leap into an unknown space. If she is able to control her impulses and not break her commands when seeing people or animals walk by then she is ready to venture out in public.
After Khaleesi did great following through with commands on her walk we decided to get her out in public for lesson three. We went to Pet supermarket to work on introductions with strangers in an unknown space. Kahleesi was nervous at first but we practiced her commands in quiet parts of the store to help build her confidence up. Once she showed signs of being relaxed we went up to the store employees and had structured introduction. We started off easy with the employees saying her name and tossing a treat at a distance, then we progressed to handing the treat to her and doing under the chin scratches.
Now that Khaleesi excelled with human introductions, we progressed to introductions with other dogs for lesson four. It is important to start with baby steps when doing dog introductions especially when one dog is reactive. To make it easier on Khaleesi, trainer Zack brought calm dogs that would not react if Khaleesi started barking and further escalate the situation. Step one of successful introductions with Khaleesi was to find a working distance where dogs could walk by her without her pulling, fixating, or barking at them. For Khaleesi we started off across the street and eventually got closer as she got less reactive toward the dogs. Once she was comfortable we worked all the dogs on the sit/stay command near each other. This way Khaleesi was able to practice coexisting around dogs she does not know. Finally we started walking again to work on butt sniffs between the dogs. To start Khaleesi walked ahead and practiced getting her butt sniffed by her new friends. Once she was able to get her butt sniffed without showing signs of stress we flipped the scenario. Now Khaleesi got to do quick sniffs with her friends. Overall, Khaleesi did great on lesson four meeting new friends and next week we should be able to move from butt sniffs to face to face introductions!
Now that Khaleesi succeded in making new dog friends, we decided to advance her by going to Home Depot with her new pals. Home Depot is a great place to work because you are guaranteed to see lots of people, some dogs and other distractions. To practice we did a few heel walk laps around the store to help Khaleesi relax, then we found a quiet ilse and started working on commands to help get her mind more focused on her owner. The better she did the closer we moved to the checkout area to work on introductions with people. Khaleesi did outstanding with her commands and got to meet a lot of new people on her field trip to Home Depot.
One of Khaleesi’s goals is to have playdates with her doggie cousins Bailey and Savannah. With her improvement on seeing dogs out in public we decided it was finally time to give it a try. To start we had all dogs meet while on a walk. This way we were able to avoid Khaleesi feeling like she was walking into another dogs territory. We went for a nice long walk and had the dogs practice doing butt sniffs to get to know each other in a neutral environment. Once everyone seemed calm, we went back to Bailey and Savannahs house for some structured interactions. We kicked the playdate off working on commands with all the dogs to help them learn how to be calm around each other and periodically let them free to have some socialization time.
For lesson seven we went back to Home Depot to continue working on big distractions and to get as many introductions with humans as possible. Khaleesi made a big stride in this lesson by not needing any treats when greeting a stranger! She walked up to everyone she saw with her tail wagging wanting to be pet! This is the greatest indicator we could have asked for that she is gaining confidence and developing a love for meeting new people. Khaleesi also made two new doggie friends, Winnie and Sienna! The three girls were instant friends and had a great time practicing all of their commands on their Home Depot field trip.