It had been four weeks since I dropped of Hank at doggy boot camp, and I was incredibly nervous to go back for my first training session. My boyfriend and parents came with me to learn how to act with Hank, and we were greeted with Leonard and another couple who were visiting with their two dogs who had recently completed doggy boot camp.
When we arrived, my dog came out his kennel and went straight to Leonard. It was strange not having him run towards us, jump on us, lick our faces and beg for attention. To be honest, that was the most difficult part of the training – feeling as if ‘my dog’ wasn’t my dog anymore. Leonard quickly assured us that the connection will be rebuilt once he’s home with us, so it was something to adjust with.
Throughout our hours there, I worked with Hank but mostly spoke with Leonard and this other couple about what is needed. What I learned most is to be observant of not only Hank’s behavior, but my own as well. I’m emotional about my dog because I’m most fearful of losing him, and my emotions trigger certain behaviors in him. He’s responsive to my tears, my energy and I need to be watchful of that. I also learned I have to be confident for myself and my dog – so he can no longer try to control my actions. Before I met Leonard, I thought Hank nudging me, sitting on my feet, blocking my space was him being cute and trying to get closer to me. I’ve learned that I was not correct, and he was just testing me and asserting his dominance.
I look forward to bringing Hank home and implementing everything I have learned, and have yet to learn into our new relationship so it’s peaceful and respected, and I can have him be a happy dog.
**After being at home for nearly 2 weeks (5 weeks at Boot Camp, 7 weeks since initial drop off)**
Two weeks have already passed since Hank came home from his 5 week stay at Doggy Boot Camp, and it’s amazing at what type of transformation came out of this. I was slightly skeptical in the beginning of how well this would work, but I had to put faith in the process because I really didn’t have another choice. That skepticism slowly turned into confidence in Leonard’s practice, as I went through 4 weeks of watching Hank on YouTube appearing more confident, less fearful, and much more well behaved.
After my second training session with Leonard, which happened a couple days before I was to bring him home – my confidence turned into fear. I thought, “I can’t do what he’s doing,” or “I have no idea how I’m supposed to bring this home with me.” Leonard spent 3-4 hours with me on a Saturday teaching me how to move near my dog, how to walk with him, how to have him listen to me, how to specifically speak to him, and how to utilize the e-collar. The next day, I did a brief session with Leonard, and Hank and I were on our way home.
When Hank came home, he was slightly confused, but it didn’t take long for him to realize he was back in his realm. While he tried to push me a little to see if he could get away with certain behaviors, I was right there telling him that I was the boss now, and he couldn’t revert back to his old ways. I treaded lightly the first couple of days to get him adjusted to being back home, and then went straight into it.
Hank and I went on long walks nightly, and I immediately noticed a behavior change. He wasn’t dragging me along for a walk like he used to, but the best was when we confronted other dogs. I used to dodge to other streets, cover his eyes with a bandana, or end our walks as Hank would backflip trying to get to another dog – aggressively barking and embarrassing me, while terrifying everyone else. Now, we’ve come across countless dogs, and most of the time I can get away with a simple “No, Hank,” and he keeps on walking.
At home, he doesn’t rush up and down the stairs anymore, and isn’t a safety hazard to anyone indoors. He prefers staying down on his bed now (versus being on the couch or on my lap), he stays in place, he doesn’t continue to bark, he enjoys being in his crate – but mostly … Hank actually listens to me.
What’s unique about Leonard is that he doesn’t spend hours teaching you silly obedience tricks. Hank can sit all day long and shake your hand – but that’s not what him or I needed. I needed a well-behaved dog with his same loving attitude. Leonard stripped the fear out of Hank during his rehabilitation, and I reinforced that his dominant behavior was not allowed.
I learned so much in this process about dogs, but also about myself. I now know I have to watch my movements, my tone, my emotions, and my confidence, all while being observant of my own dog. My dog and I now have a completely different relationship, one we both respect. He knows his place as a dog, and I know my place as his owner. I’m amazed at what Leonard has taught us, and I can’t wait to enjoy life with my dog!