Many years passed from these wonderful times. When I was a young man I was able to purchase my first home, with a beautiful yard, a great yard for a dog. Thus, I purchased a puppy. I spent many hours with this dog and had a wonderful time. I “trained” the dog very well, and took very good care of the dog. My new wife also got to experience the joy of a dog, and became very attached. When our first child entered the picture however, the dog showed aggression toward my newborn child. I was not willing to take a chance with an unpredictable dog, and new with a new child time was going to be very limited. Thus, we found the dog a good home with no children and gave him up. It was heartbreaking. But, I was firm in my conviction – never again to have an aggressive dog.
Moving forward another 10 years, our family has grown to 5 and we decided to get a family dog. I wanted my family to experience the joy of a dog and learn how to properly take care of one. I also (in the back of my mind) was fully dedicated to raise the dog well/properly to avoid any chance of aggression, and if the dog ever showed any signs of aggressive behavior I would take action.
Our family puppy was wonderful. The dog was a fast learner and never destroyed any property. I “trained” him well in terms of walking with a leash, sit, etc. However, I began to see signs of aggression towards humans as well as sometimes other dogs. Over time the aggression seemed to be progressing and becoming more common. I knew I had to take action.
In my mind, I could not understand why yet another dog I have is showing aggression. I have never hit, or abused the dog in any way. Yet I seemed to be heading down the same path with this dog – again! I figured I must be handling the dog incorrectly, but really did not know what was wrong. Heck, I treated our dog better than anyone I knew (with dogs).
Determined to change the path we seemed to be going down, I began to look for a specialist in aggressive dog behavior. I found Leonard on the web and his site seemed to speak directly to me. Thus, as a family we decided to commit/dedicate ourselves to addressing this behavior and contacted Leonard for a consultation.
Upon meeting Leonard, we had a discussion about our dog, and how we interact with him. Leonard was asking specific questions and I could tell he was piecing together the situation. I also got the distinct feeling that I was in for a serious education on dog behavior, and even more of an education on people behavior with dogs! I was thrilled, I so very much wanted to learn more about how to handle/manage a dog.
After a lengthy discussion, we then brought our dog out of the car to meet Leonard. Within a few minutes, I could tell Leonard was putting the pieces together. His first comment about our dog was that he “is spoiled”. Yes – Leonard pretty much nailed it. In a few more minutes Leonard was already establishing himself with our dog as the leader and showing our dog how the rules will be changing. Our dogs reaction was amazing and difficult to watch. But, I was instantly seeing that our dog was missing some basic needs in his life. Primarily that he was no longer the pack leader!
After some more discussion and a bit of working with our dog, Leonard concluded that our dog needed to be rehabilitated and would be staying at Leonard’s ranch until the process is complete. He also made it clear that a major portion of the process is training for us, on how to properly interact with our dog. This was no surprise to me, as I had already pieced together that much of the problem stemmed from our behavior with our dog.
Certainly I was sad to leave our dog with Leonard, but also completely thrilled. I felt that we have a long road ahead of us, but that with Leonard’s rehabilitation with our dog and with some serious people training we will beat this issue of aggression. My commitment to this is 100%.
Leonard had our dog for 3 weeks. When we returned I noticed a new dog, very well behaved. I also noticed the bond that our dog and Leonard had formed. It was amazing and I was so eager to learn about properly handling my dog to develop a similar relationship. It was truly exciting to see.
Now, I am a relatively smart guy, I have a college degree, run my own successful company, etc. But wow, let me say, even though I have had a few dogs in my life, I really knew nothing about dogs and dog physiology. Meeting with Leonard and learning from him was a real eye opener. What really amazed me was how our dog was giving us signs but I never saw them! Having Leonard work with me and show me, we an eye opener. Also, having Leonard help me understand the perspective our my dog, was super helpful as well. I also realized that some of the concepts just do not come natural to me. My wife and older son seemed to pickup the concepts immediately, where it took me many tries and I am still working on it!
But here is some of what I learned: Some of my actions, although not intentional, have a huge impact from the dog’s perspective. For example, I loved to walk up and pet my dog on the head. However, Leonard showed me that this can be a serious issue. First, our dog may not be in the mood to be petted on the head. Second, me walking up to the dog –uninvited could be construed as threating behavior. And Third, Leonard pointed out when I pet the dog’s head, he licks his lips. Leonard showed us this is our dog telling us that he did not like this, and to not do this. Leonard indicated this is actually a form of a bite! Wow. Leonard, pointed out to me, how do I feel if I am sitting relaxed, minding my own business and Leonard walk up to me, close, and leans over me, reaching out – how do I like that, how does that make me feel? Leonard is right – it certainly can feel like threating/challenging behavior. Leonard showed me, first to have the dog come to me. Then, to pet the dog in a kind and gentle manner – soothing. Sure thing, I tried this and the dog was not threatened, no liking lips. But also, this is a process for me, during the session, I kept falling back to old habits and incorrectly addressing my dog. For me, I really need to think about how I interact with our dog.
Once we brought our dog home, and with Leonard’s guidance we have done very well with our dog. As indicated prior, I view this as a process as I seem to be a slow learner in the dog physiology department. But, I am learning and see great progress with our dog. We have had a few signs of aggression, but thinking and working through this is part of the process and Leonard will guide us through. I think in our case we will be making some return visits to Leonard for continual education.
By the time we completed the initial program, we truly feel that Leonard is not only our guiding leader for our dog, but also a close friend. The entire experience had been challenging but very rewarding. I find that I have many takeaways that apply to all aspects of my life. I am and always will be grateful for Leonard’s leadership.
Final note: One area of the program we failed at, was to provide a write up of our experience in a timely manner. Leonard uses this write-up as a tool to better understand where we are in terms of our understanding of the entire process. This is an important aspect of the program and cannot be delayed. Leonard has invested a significant amount of time into our dog and us as well. In our case, Leonard has gone above and beyond to work with us and our dog. We are grateful for his efforts, and look forward to a long and enduring relationship with Leonard and our wonderful dog.