I adopted Tanner (a neutered male Belgian Malinois/yellow lab mix) as an eight week old puppy from a rescue shelter. He the cutest little puppy but was a little fearful. I figured he would grow out of it once he got used to his new family. As he got older we had a puppy with some behavioral issues, but because we have had dogs before we figured he would outgrow these. Tanner was scared of ceiling fans (the silent fans) because the movement made him scared. He would try to squeeze his 60lb frame under a bed to get away from the fan. I called him my ostrich because he would hide his face if he were scared. A doorbell would send him running, or if moved a chair too fast. Tanner could not be around other dogs because they would scare him. Tanner would freak out in car rides and start foaming at the mouth and throwing up before we were down our street. Tanner grew up in our house with three indoor cats, and a tiny toy eight pound poodle. When Tanner would walk, his head would be down and tail between his legs. It is hard to believe this 60 pound dog was afraid of everything. He looked like a severely beat down dog.
I could not understand why he acted this way. Our family just kind of got used to our “big baby” as I would refer to him. If a tree rattled too much in the wind, it would spook him. Tanner is our family dog, and we loved him no matter his issues.Then one-day everything changed. Last year (February 2012) when Tanner was two we watched two Chihuahua mix dogs for six months. The male Chihuahua mix dog was very dominant and aggressive toward Tanner and Tanner was scared of him. This tiny dog bullied Tanner for a month until one day Tanner stood up for himself and snapped. The little dog went to nip at him and Tanner growled and bit the back of his neck and tossed him. He did the same thing about two months later. Tanner was no longer allowed to go near this dog. Once the little dog went back to his owner, I noticed that Tanner was still fearful but not he had this side of him that could snap at any minute and I was fearful he could bite again. I knew I had a MAJOR problem when the next month, he bit, and tossed his best friend, our little tiny toy poodle. The vet said this bite was meant to hurt him and not to just scare him. I was a mess. Tanner was my family and I was advised by people to put him down because one he had the taste of blood, he will always have that bite instinct in him. I knew my dog was a changed dog and I was scared this could happen again. I could deal with him being fearful and not aggressive, but he now had this “trigger” and I was afraid he would bite my cat or anyone. I have a 10-year-old son and now I would not let our dog be around him. After Tanner bit our little dog, my husband tried to put Tanner in his cage and Tanner tried to bite him. My husband discussed giving Tanner away, but we did not know what to do. Putting Tanner down was not an option and neither was giving him up. I knew there had to be a solution or a way to get help for him. I was lost and out of answers. AT this point Tanner was caged or outside in our back yard. He was isolated from our family. I spent days upset and lost about what to do. I started to Google asking what to do if a dog bits, I researched books I could read to help me. Still there was nothing and I knew Tanner could be good for a while but I did not know what to expect and I could not take a chance on something else getting hurt. I came across Leonard’s website “Dominant Dogs” and started to read the testimonials to see if any dogs there had issues similar to mine. What I found were dogs that had bit other dogs, dogs that bit people, and other dogs with behaviors, I figured I did not have anything to lose at this point and I called Leonard and asked him questions. After talking to Leonard, I realized that there was hope for my dog. Tanner was not a lost cause. At this point I would do or try anything. Leonard made me feel better and after I talked to Leonard, I called my husband and told him, I knew what we were going to do with Tanner. We were going to take him to meet Leonard and go for our first evaluation.
When we got to Leonard’s it did not take long for him to see the fearfulness in our dog. Tanner was very stubborn and scared. Leonard turned on the lawn mower and I thought Tanner was going to jump on the roof. It was decided that seven weeks of dog boot camp was best suited for him. We were all in. I will be honest and say I did not want to get my hopes up. Taking Tanner to Leonard was my last ditch effort to save my dog and I could not imagine not having him. I did not want to give up on him, but I was also a little skeptical how in just seven weeks Tanner can change how he is been for his last three years of his life. At the first visit, Tanner was stubborn and refused to cooperate with Leonard at first. Tanner was a little aggressive and did not like doing something he did not want to do. The other dogs scared him and Tanner was just a mess. It was upsetting because I wanted Tanner to be a success story, and there was a part of me that did not think he would be.
Leonard e-mailed us with pictures of Tanner’s progression with him and the other dogs throughout the seven weeks. Around week five, my husband, son, and I came back to see Tanner and to work with Leonard so we knew how to be with our dog. I learned that when you have a dog who is not a problem, things are easy and you can be anyway with your dog, and the dog would adapt. When you have a dog with problems, you have to understand the dog and know how to act and not act with them. For example, when Tanner put his head down and turned away, we were done with whatever we were trying to get him to do. We were able to learn about some of Tanner’s body language that we never knew, we learned that we can no longer be pushovers and let Tanner be who he wants and when he wants. We lived in our house, it was not his. We learned how to walk with Tanner and what to do to correct him, which behaviors are good and what are not acceptable. There was so much that Tanner had to learn as well as my family and me.
When we went back for the five-week visit, I had a knot in my stomach. I was bracing myself for the worst. I figured Tanner would still be stubborn and defiant and scared of everything. When we arrived, Tanner was with other dogs…German shepherds, and other big dogs that were there for training as well. I thought “holy cow! Tanner is with other dogs and running around?” Leonard showed us the progress Tanner had made. I think my jaw is still on the floor of Leonard’s garage. Tanner would walk on a leash next to him and not pull, he could be around other dogs and not want to fight, and his tail was up!!! I do not think I ever saw his tail up in the air and not between his legs. Then the bigger tests came; Leonard turned on the lawn mower. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “Well here goes.” When Leonard turned on the mower, Tanner stood there and Leonard held the leash and walked with him. Tanner just walked next to him like he was walking in the park. I was beyond shocked. Then Leonard had us take the leash and walk with him. I could walk up to a bench and jump on it and stay and walk away and have Tanner come to me when I said free. Tanner even played ball with us (he is not a big play-ball kind of dog). Leonard knew that our son was scared of Tanner now because he saw Tanner bite our dog so he had our son walk Tanner with us and get him to jump on a retaining wall stand there. Not only did Leonard help Tanner, he also helped my son with getting over his fear of Tanner and to become more confident with himself and with our dog. The magic was happening before my very eyes. Tanner looked happy and was obedient and was not a fearful, scared dog. Tanner even played with chickens while he was there.
It has been two weeks since we had Tanner home and I cannot begin to describe the difference in Tanner and our family. Leonard has taken Tanner in car rides, to restaurants, has had him with his family for holidays. Leonard and his wife truly cared about our dog. I have taken Tanner for walks on a leash, and he stays right next to me and does not pull, he walks with his head up and tail up, and ignores other dogs. Tanner comes to us when we say “come”. He is happy even around our other dog and three cats. I vacuum, and he stays with me and does not jump out of his skin. He knows he eats in his crate, and when he is outside he does not bark all the time or whine to come in. We have him lay on the floor by us when we are in the family room. I can get him to jump on the bench outside our house by saying ‘place’, walk across the street to get the mail and come back, and he is still there until I say, “free”. We have a totally different dog. It is hard to sum up all the differences we have seen because there are so many. To name just a few, Tanner is un-phased by ceiling fans now, and he rides in our car with no puking or freaking out. He sits and looks out the window or lies down on the seat. I trust Tanner again; I have my buddy back! We have a different bond with him now. He needs us, and we need him. I still write this and tear up because Leonard was amazing, and we all learned so much. He saved our dog, and now we have our family dog back. To see Tanner playing with our son, or wanting us to scratch his stomach, and just being a happy dog…..is priceless. Tanner loves to be petted and loves to be around us. I think he knows we did not give up on him and he did not give up on us. We owe it all to Leonard and all his hard work. Leonard, without a doubt, saved Tanner and helped us so much. Words cannot express my gratitude.
Thank you Leonard Ludovico from (k9bodylanguage.com)
Respectfully signed, Amy