This was the first consultation
When I think of my dog Hank, I never thought of him as this huge, aggressive, vicious beast. I thought of him as a perfect dog, who has a few problems that could be fixed. I adopted Hank, a german shepherd chow mix through a rescue service in San Diego a year and a half ago. He was living at a foster home with several other dogs, in an outside kennel. After falling in love immediately, he came home with me and I thought I was truly blessed to have such a ‘perfect dog.’ He was 6 months old, didn’t bark, was loving, cuddly, and went everywhere with my boyfriend and I. His foster mom had told us he was an outside dog, and may have difficulty transitioning to an inside dog. I was astounded when I never even had to potty train Hank. He’s coming up on 2 years, and has only had ONE accident in the house. It was the epitome of why we wanted a dog. We wanted to love him, bring him everywhere with us, hikes ,restaurants, and enjoy life together.
The first sign of an issue was when I tried crating Hank when I went to work. He tore up 2 metal crates with blood everywhere. He cried and even broke out of one, to tear down all the blinds in my house. I started taking him to dog day care nearby so he could play, and it seems around that time is when his aggression began. I couldn’t walk him down the street without him going NUTS at other dogs walking by. If someone was approaching me, he would act as if he was going in for the kill.
My boyfriend and I figured we would try basic training to get Hank some manners, so we made the mistake of taking him to a pet store. 5 weeks of training, and we had a dog who could sit, stay, shake and leave it … but only when we were in the quiet of our own home. If we took this training to the streets with any sort of distraction, forget it. I decided to take it to a professionals hand, so I contacted a private trainer in San Diego. We had six private sessions, and Hank progressed. My trainer however told me, this will take time and you have to remain consistent or else your dog will kill something or someone. It was hard to hear, but I knew I had to continue.
We then moved from Carlsbad to La Jolla, and Hank seemed to have gotten so much better. It was a larger home, and he cohabited with a 2 pound yorkie poo who he loved to death. Slowly towards the end, the leash aggression came back and he began barking at EVERYONE who came in the home, including people he knew.
Now, Hank is living with my parents in a large home with a huge backyard and has taken over. They took him to his FOURTH private trainer, and she said “I don’t know if I want to continue to work with aggressive dogs anymore.” He began to get worse. He couldn’t go on walks anymore unless it was late at night, impossible to ring to the vet, and I knew it was the final straw when he attacked my sister’s dog who is also his best friend … twice in a 48 hour span. Being very family-oriented with six dogs commonly in the home, we knew we had to do something serious.
Four trainers, 3 crates ruined, and countless nights of worry and tears, I had no other choice. I began to wonder if I should have even adopted this dog in the first place, and why he was acting this way.
After HOURS of research for the best trainer in California, I came across Leonard at Dominantdogs.com. With so many testimonials of situations very similar to mine, I realized a recurring trend. Everyone felt like Leonard was their last hope. I immediately called him, we spoke for half an hour, and I then booked a consultation.
Yesterday was the consultation, and I brought my brother for moral support. If I told you it was easy, I’d be lying. I heard several things I already knew, and I learned a ton that I never thought I would hear. It’s difficult to have someone tell you that your dog is essentially the way he is, because of your actions. I had done nothing but LOVE my dog to pieces, yet he has become unpredictable and feared.
Our one hour consultation turned into two and half hours, and Leonard showed me how my stress, my bodily movements, everything … impacted the way Hank was acting. He was controlling my life, and he knew it. It was very emotional and intense, but you soon realize your pets are a direct reflection of yourself.
I left with a decision to make, leave Hank there for boot camp, do private lessons, or pretend I can do this on my own. Leonard wasn’t salesy, pushy, he left it in your hands. I talked it over with my brother, my parents and my boyfriend continuously all night, and we realized this was the best decision we could make for Hank. If he’s so fearful as Leonard taught us, he cannot be happy in his own skin. We all love Hank, and want the best for him so I have decided to let go of my own fears, and have Hank stay with Leonard with 3-7 weeks. I’m hopeful of seeing a much better dog on the other side, and can’t wait for what else Leonard has to teach us.