Daisy was brought to us from an out of state animal shelter where she had been living for about five years. Daisy had become extremely kennel stressed. She was very reactive with all animals. When anyone walked by her kennel, she would lunge and bark which of course made the nice people all go away. Daisy became labeled as "aggressive". The shelter staff saw Daisy for who she really is and reached out to see if I would bring her in.
After evaluating Daisy, she was not aggressive at all, but she was very reactive and she could be scary just by looking at her. She pulled on her leash like crazy and she was so tuned out by people that her handlers thought she was deaf. Humans just had nothing to say that was important to Daisy. This is where I decided to start. I wanted to show her that a healthy relationship with people is a good thing.
I started with hours of longline work. We began to have conversation through the leash and spent hours hanging out in the training yard. It didn't take her long before she began to gravitate to my side on her own. I didn't ask Daisy to do anything that she couldn't handle, like going for a structured walk. We just hung out, mostly in silence and I just let her be.
The strategy worked. After several weeks, she began to settle down. She became calm and enjoyed being with me. She would prance out to the training yard and she was just so proud of herself. She listened to leash guidance well and started to respond when I called her by name. She loved laying in the sun and relaxing. As her mind became calm, she accepted being handled, going on long walks and being around more people. Daisy learned to sleep in a bed in the house and she loved her new life.
Daisy has come so far. She is a calm dog most of the time, although can still be reactive around some people and animals. While she's not the "perfect" dog, she has learned to live in her own skin, her own body and maybe most importantly, in her own mind. I showed Daisy what it feels like to have a home and to be loved for who she is, not what is expected of her. At the age of 6-7, Daisy has finally learned how to be a dog.