Cooper’s owner Sandy contacted me shortly after she adopted him from down south. She knew he had issues and what those issues were. Even though she was an experienced dog owner, she still wanted a little guidance in the best way to train a reactive dog.
One of the issues was aggression (he bit her sister twice) and another was his fear of riding in a car (he was found living under an overpass).
Because Sandy’s mom lives with her, we needed a plan that would keep everyone safe, especially since Sandy’s mom was under hospice care, which means nurses coming and going regularly. Since Sandy is such an experienced dog owner, I knew Cooper was in the best hands possible going forward.
When it comes to aggression issues with dogs, most often there isn’t just one issue that can trigger a dog. In Cooper’s case, I felt there might be some protectiveness with Nana. After all there wasn’t anyone like Nana. Cooper loves Sandy’s mom and spends a lot of time with her in her room and has never shown an signs of aggression with her.
Even though I reserve the right to muzzle a dog, I don’t if I can help it. I don’t want my first days with a dog associated with muzzling them. In this case I didn’t. I worked Cooper to the point before reaction. Anything more, I switched places with Sandy and instructed her instead.
It was important for Sandy to start working obedience with Cooper in order to establish her role in his life. She absolutely needed to be the leader in his eyes. If not, nothing we did would matter.
Sandy knows that Cooper might never be 100% reliable around strangers but for her this situation is manageable. We talked at length about prevention and how important it is not to put Cooper in certain situations and then what to do if reaction happens.
Although Cooper is still a work in progress, I am very optimistic about Sandy and Cooper’s future.
P.S. At the time of this writing, Sandy contacted me with a progress report on Cooper. Sadly Sandy’s mom passed. But Sandy was happy to tell me that Cooper was a perfect gentleman while she had people staying with her before and after the memorial service. In fact, now that it is just the two of them Cooper is excited when company comes.
They also recently went to Maine and although Cooper was medicated for the long ride, he did amazingly well. He wasn’t the panicked dog he once was in the car. He also loved playing with Sandy’s great niece and nephew while visiting.
I cannot state enough how excited and happy I am to hear this news. There is a lot of healing to go around for the both of them right now but I’m so happy they have each other to do it.