Zinc came to us an underweight stray who engaged in manageable resource guarding behaviors and a dislike of other male dogs. Zeffy came to us as a stray from the South, who was in need of treatment for mange and heartworm, and who shortly thereafter was diagnosed with melanoma and needed a series of surgeries and treatments. Zeffy was extremely scared and would act
aggressively with men, also exhibiting resource guarding behaviors, and was just a hot mess of negative energy.
Although we semi-successfully integrated them, it became obvious after a while that Zeffy’s stress level was increasing. We employed a trainer who utilized a combination of methods, including some basic aversion techniques. This culminated in Zeffy injuring Zinc twice in two weeks, with the second incident requiring veterinary care and a few weeks of convalescence.
Whatever relationship our dogs had previously developed had now eroded. Gates were installed; my wife and I began sleeping in different rooms with one dog each and closed doors; Zinc was made to stay in the bedroom while we were gone and our cats were locked in the basement for their safety. Our entire household was on edge and we were a classic miserable animal household.
I found Debby’s web page and reached out to her almost immediately, After a reassuring conversation, I terminated our arrangement with the previous trainer.
Debby’s animal behavior toolbox–and now our toolbox!–is full of potential solutions to a huge amount of concerns. We worked with supplements and aromas, harnesses, training treats, exercises, web resources, and more. We experimented, we worked, we played, we walked, and we talked. The end result wasn’t well trained dogs; it was happier, more relaxed dogs that make much better choices than we have ever seen. It took time and work (and will continue to take more time and work), but the gates are down, the dogs sleep wherever they want, the cats have the run of the house, we have male friends who can visit, and our dogs are learning that they can develop positive relationships with other dogs and people that result in a net gain for them. Most importantly, our dogs now have a support system in place and they can and do look to us when they are unsure or stressed in the moment.
This was an incredibly educational experience. We feel that we are now responding to dogs that we understand, and our efforts have certainly paid off.