Be Vulnerable, Stay Open

Looking back on where Jack was when we first brought him home until now, it’s night and day.

Jack was frustrated, his social and emotional needs weren’t met in the beginning which resulted in barking and lunging at anything and everything.

Jack was thirsty to learn.

I needed to listen, but in the beginning I didn’t know how.

I struggled with his separation related behaviors, his panic attacks in confinement areas, his barking and lunging on a leash at people, cars, trucks, other dogs, runners, bicyclists and I recognized he was struggling too.

I needed to find how to help him understand he’s safe when we didn’t speak the same language.

The first thing I did was discover his favorite things-FOOD! 😂

Food is important for any animal’s survival. You don’t have to teach another living being to like food (maybe the type of food ect).

What is necessary to understand is a more pleasurable food will for sure boost morale which in turn will encourage more motivation.

The power of food can change minds.

Then I began bringing his favorites everywhere I went with him.

This not only helped him engage with me, but I also recognized when I was wearing my treat pouch, I was also engaged with him too.

It was a physical reminder, I’m here for Jack and I want to teach him, much like when a person brings a briefcase to work or puts on a uniform.

We worked together in more distracting environments and together he built his toolbox of coping skills and increased his self control.

Not only did Jack learn the reward of something delicious coming his way when we saw another person, or even another dog, but he started to “see” me too.

Jack began checking in with me on his own because I consistently showed up for and stayed engaged with him.

The ongoing practice is a game changer for him.

He’s learned to change his mind about all the things I mentioned. We passed by a person walking their very excited dog while in the car and Jack watched without getting excited or barking and lunging.

We drive through the gate at JBLM and Jack is content with the window being rolled down and the gate guard and I sharing pleasantries and getting ID cards scanned.

These things did not happen in the beginning.

He changed because I changed.

I know it’s scary, but you can change too.

Bring the rewards.

Praise and reward for the behaviors you want.

Be consistent.

Take your time.

Look to set up for success always.

If a mistake happens, because it will, be kind to yourself and your dog.

You’re both learning together.

You will see the relationship unfold and your dog change too.

Get started:

Published by houndbiz

Katherine Porter is a force free, reward based dog behavior advisor and consultant serving clients and their companion dogs worldwide. Her calm and gentle approach in coaching clients in effectively communicating what they want to their dog blends her MSW background into her dog training and behavior practice. Katherine was a behavior consultant for Heeling Hounds after graduation. She opened Four Paws and You Dog Training LLC when the military relocated her family to Fort Sill, OK in 2015. During this time, she volunteered with Rainbow Bridge Can Wait where she provided post adoption consultations to new pet parents. She also developed and implemented tailored behavior modification plans for highly reactive dogs residing at the shelter. She also provided educational programs to military children through interactive workshops at the Fort Sill School Age Center. In 2017, Katherine relocated Four Paws and You Dog Training LLC to Germany. She served the Armed Forces communities in Bavaria. She continued coaching and advising her clients in addressing their companion dog’s fearful and reactive behavioral issues. Katherine takes a Do No Harm approach first and foremost in providing behavioral plans. She is committed in serving clients with gentle and modern science approaches in modifying behavioral concerns such as reactivity, aggression, separation anxiety and fear based responses. Katherine is a member of the Pet Professional Guild. She is focused on integrating a holistic and modern approach in addressing her client’s pet companion reactive behavior issues.

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