Changing Feelings Always Comes First

Macie and her family came to Four Paws & You at a time when the family was uncertain about her future.

Macie’s early puppy experiences were mostly great.

Fun and loving home.

The family wanted the best for her.

They absolutely love her.

Unfortunately for Macie, she had a couple of negative interactions with people which contributed to her fear of those who are strangers to her.

Macie’s fear at the veterinarian’s office labeled her an “aggressive” dog by another pet professional.

Macie is only about 5 months old.

I met Macie shortly after this experience.

We met outside since the transitional experience of someone new coming into the home would have been triggering for Macie.

To make it easier for her, I suggested for my client to slowly make her way up the street (I waited about a block and a half away).

As Macie was able to disengage from seeing me and offer attention towards her guardian on her own, they moved closer.

Macie and her guardian remained engaged and I tossed some super high value rewards away from me, so it didn’t encourage Macie to get closer rather it encouraged her to move away.

After several rounds, Macie grew comfortable with me.

Macie greeted me by sniffing my pant legs.

I tossed some treats away, so Macie didn’t feel trapped if a wave of fear came over her when the new to her person was still there.

After a few more rounds, Macie grew even more comfortable with me and chose to brush up against me with a relaxed body.

I tossed some more treats.

She came back, sat in front of me and she gently took a treat from my hand.

I gained her trust and she felt secure with our greetings.

Not only was this real time unfamiliar greeting practice for Macie, but her family too.

As you can see, before any practice on teaching Macie behavior cues or replacement behaviors for unwanted ones, I first had to help Macie gain trust I wouldn’t threaten or scare her in any way.

Once she felt secure, we proceeded only as quickly as Macie was comfortable with at each stage.

Macie made huge gains over the last several weeks.

The family is united on ensuring they maintain their management as well as continuing to help Macie change her conditioned emotional responses through playing the Engage/Disengage game, open bar/closed bar, mat work, and she’s even striving in areas of self control by waiting at doors and having all four on the floor.

Their work is not over.

They are now on a path of long lasting and effective behavior change.

I know they will continue to have success on their journey together.

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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