Sam Legg contacted me in March 2015 to help her turn TJ, a rescued terrier mix, into a service dog. TJ had a long way to go! He had handling issues, reactivity to strangers, resource guarding tendencies, constant hard-mouthing and scratching of Sam, and a bite history. Although Sam had taken several group classes with TJ, including successfully completing obedience and CGC classes, as well as beginner agility, these had not helped with the underlying behavioral issues. Within two months of our consult, Sam wrote:
Working with Sharon has taught me a lot about behavior, how to modify it, what my dog means by his various actions, what works for him. How to maximize our training time to conserve my energy and his attention span. He is more confident because I’m keeping him out of nervewracking situations, and he understands what I am asking him to do more often. The household is more peaceful, the cat shows genuine affection for the dog and not just trying to stay out of his way. And it’s just brought so much pure joy! My dog and I like each other a lot more now.
Now Sam has been able to put TJ’s “service dog in training” vest back on him and start working toward training assistance tasks and the ADI public access test! Later, Sam emailed me after her household had an abrupt change in lifestyle and activity levels that would previously have been disastrous for TJ:
“TJ has been a champ through it all though. Adapts cheerfully to changes like our walks being very short and stopping every few steps:)”
When I said this was a result of her training (after all, in April, Sam said TJ’s “Default behavior —when tired, overjoyed, or stressed —is still to put teeth on me”). Now Sam says:
“Not sure I have exactly TRAINED him to work with the new situations, I don’t think I’ve had it that together 🙂 Maybe more that he’s learned how to stop and think things through. His learning seems to have helped him to be flexible with whatever is happening….. actually that’s a great testimony for your training, that he’s learned <how to learn> rather than a set of rigid behaviors.”