After being attacked by a group of people with rockets and fireworks, both Dixie and her owner have been really struggling to cope with going out for walks, to the point they ended up stopping for many months. Dixie was so traumatised she needed veterinary help.
After spending hundreds on training and things just ultimately getting worse, Dixie’s owner contacted us for our help with her reactivity towards people, dogs and just about everything else she could find. We were also joined by Jonny of
to assist with the session.
Right out the gates Dixie was reactive with us, showing signs of being environmentally stressed, kicking off at dogs, frantically pulling around and just being generally out of control. Interestingly though, Dixie showed far more over-excitement (when not focused on people) than that of fear.
There’s a big tendency for owners and trainers to label reactive behaviour as fear, when it’s infact more commonly coming from frustration, genetic nerve, handler errors, or low confidence. It’s important to identify where it’s really stemming from because they have their own nuances that may change the approach of the training.
After allowing Dixie some time to decompress from the travel and familiarise herself with the new environment, she was still all over the place and showing a big problem with our presence. You could tell that she didn’t really want to bite, just trying her hardest to make herself as threatening as possible to convince us otherwise.
We got to work and started to build rapport and relationship with her, while teaching some new leash manners, and improving her reliability of eye contact. With dogs that’re overly aroused/excited/stressed by the environment it’s essential that their feelings of needing to be decision makers is removed and replaced with the safety of knowing you have them covered. Once they understand their new role and function, they have one thing to focus on and the rest of the perceived chaos in their mind begins to quieten.
The difference in Dixie was so sudden and drastic that not only were we able to have multiple trainers handle her, but we tested her against 10+ dogs, a man in hi-vis and cap, traffic, environmental sounds and more. Not only was Dixie able to handle her anxiety without reacting, but she was checking in with her owner, much calmer, walking on a loose leash, and really working hard to make better choices.
Now, just one day on from her session and she’s showing huge improvements again, even in the area she’d previously been attacked where all of the trouble had initially began. Both Dixie and her owner have had their confidence revitalised and are already making huge strides towards getting back out there and enjoying each others companionship in the outside world.
Super well done to Dixie and her owner for working as hard as they have, they deserve all the success in the world. Good luck in your training moving forwards and enjoy every minute of it!