Spencer had Dog Aggression
I have always had a dog, and every dog I’ve had has been raised from a puppy. When my last dog Axel passed, it took me about a year to consider filling the void. To this day, all my dogs are such a vivid imprint in my heart and mind. A testimony to the relationship you can build with an animal. Mike and I were ready, but we decided to adopt this time.
We felt a strong need to rescue a dog and visited the shelter several times without finding a fit. So I set out on an internet search. We didn’t have any specific breed mix in mind I was just worried about being able to carry my dog if needed, so I was aiming for 40 lbs or less. As Axel got closer to her last days, we were getting up with her in the middle of the night and carrying her up and down the stairs. She had always slept by my bed, and she wasn’t about to change that; no, sir. She was bound and determined to get up those steps! Stairs had always been a part of her life, so I was her elevator. She weighed every bit of 65 lbs with a barrel chest so that you can understand my desire for a smaller dog.
After weeks of searching, I found some excellent candidates. Baxter was a cute pup past the puppy age, but what a handsome boy! We liked the idea that he was with a foster home so we could get a lot better feel for his habits and personality, so correspondence began. We almost missed getting him. Another couple had taken him home for a test run, but he is a Boxer/Staffy mix and not allowed in their apartment complex. We had a video conference first, then off to meet him. He was just as cute in person and was very well-mannered in the house. He knew basic commands and was house-trained.
Now for the challenges: Spencer focuses on moving cars when out for a walk and wants to chase them. He still needed work walking on the leash, this boy has a lot of energy. He got along great with his two larger housemates and had been around a small child around age 7. Remember, I have been around dogs all my life I thought these would be easy to overcome. When we got him home, we made it a point to have a few days off to acclimate him to his new environment. Our daughter’s dog is named Dexter and much too close to Baxter, so a name change was in order, and Spencer it was.
So far, so good! He is fitting in – except…the walk; we went through a choke chain and a Murphy collar and ended up with a harness. As it turned out, Spencer didn’t care too much for some other dogs walking with their owners. And he did like cars, day or night; he just wanted to go after them – not chase them but act like he wanted to attack. I think his reaction was to lash out when he didn’t care about something like the size and noise of the car.
We Became Frustrated
I needed help. The things that worked for prior puppies were not working for Spencer. My shoulders were so tight after our nightly walks from his constant pulling that my level of irritation was starting to grow. On top of that, we have a 1-year-old granddaughter. And while Spencer has never touched her, he did appear just shy of giving her a correction, and we were concerned. I started searching first with referrals. A highly recommended referral told me I had a bad dog and should put him down. Heartbroken, I reached out to his foster parent and told him I might need to give him back. He had offered to take him if things didn’t work out for some reason, and he encouraged me to keep looking.
Then We Met Ralf
I found another trainer, but they recommended I leave Spencer there. I had taken him with me, but I got the distinct feeling Spencer was uncomfortable, so we left. Then I found Ralf from Happy Dog Training through Thumbtack! He came to the house for a mutual interview, and he made sense of everything he said. He was very educational, explaining the behavioral aspect, why, and how to overcome it. We decided he was the right one for all of us. Ralf has helped us soo much! Showing us the correct tools (proper training collar, better leash, reading material) and working with us through routine sessions.
We were seeing results almost immediately. The focusing on and bolting for moving cars ceased within a couple of weeks. Spencer still wants to pull a little, but he is no longer dragging me down the sidewalk. He lets me go first out the door. This happened after the first training session and 3rd attempt. His anxiety level has dropped significantly. Every once in a while, we run into a dog with high energy, and we go back to some basic steps, but the amount of time it takes for him to calm down has improved 10-fold.
Even our family that stayed with us six months ago recently made a return visit and commented on his improvement. All three of the kids were competing for his attention, and Spencer was loving every minute! He’s a wonderful dog and great addition to our family, and thanks to Ralf, we are all loving life!— Julia K. (Read the Review on Thumbtack)