A dog training success story with Luna and what I learned from it.
For dog trainers, every dog is there not only for us to teach, but to learn from. We take lessons out of every session, dog, and dog training experience we have. A good dog trainer is always learning and improving with every dog we work with. The dogs are our best teachers.
Luna's owner came to me in June of 2020, she was one of the first board and trains I took on. She came in very nervous, when she got out of the truck (her owner had to pick her up to take her out) she flattened herself to the ground and wouldn't move. Completely in panic, wouldn't accept food (which usually goes first), wouldn't move, what do you do. We brought her to a yard where her parents said their goodbyes and my work began.
Quick backstory on Luna, her owner got her from a "breeder" (not a good ethical one) her owner told me the mother and a littermate regularly attacked Luna in the house, so she was fearful in new environments, but also reactive to other dogs. Her owner wanted her to gain confidence, and be able to do things, and enjoy life instead of being afraid!
This is a short video on how Luna walked around a new room, after about an hour with me. She was slow, low to the ground and very nervous.
5 lessons Luna taught me
Discomfort is necessary for growth. It is important to remember, diamonds aren't made without pressure. Discomfort can come in the form of many things, with Luna it was uncomfortable situations and teaching her that in that discomfort she will be ok. After every little uncomfortable situation she came out the other side with more confidence, and more willingness to try in the next situation, it was beautiful!
Advocate for your dog, and show them "you've got this!" With Luna it was important to build trust and show her that I had the situation handled and I would get her to the other side, then showing her owner how to do the same. Advocation is also deterring other things that may influence the dog, other people, other dogs, etc. It's ok and my students are encouraged to say no!
Reactivity doesn't equal aggressiveness. Most dogs are dog selective, which means they don't have to like or engage with every dog. Luna is very dog selective, and was reactive because she was afraid. Most reactivity is fear based, or excitement based, advocacy is very important in these situations! Luna has the ability to make friends but it takes her time and a leader advocating for her!
Give them time and grace. There is no straight line to dog training, there are many ups, downs, and detours, give them time. We have a strange mindset with dog training that in a couple months we can have the perfect dog, and that's not the case. We don't send our kids to school and expect them to know everything, we send them to 12 years of education and they will always be learning. We should give ourselves and our dogs more grace and celebrate all the little wins.
PLAY builds confidence and heals. For Luna she was so afraid of everything in the world and that's not the way we want our dogs to be. We want them to enjoy life with us and enhance our lives as well. I did a lot of play with Luna not only to build a reward to reinforce her behaviors, but also to build confidence! Her owner has her doing things she never believed she could do because of this!
Luna's Success with Dog Training
Luna will always have improvements to make! But she has exceeded her owners (and my) expectations. She is a staple example on why I love what I do, and will continue to do! Her story is amazing and I am so proud to be part of it. Here's what her owner has to say!
"I can’t even express how thankful I am for Christina’s help with my dog luna! Luna has always been an anxious and nervous dog. With the help of Christina, Luna and I learned to work together. Luna was not a confident dog and would react to everything out of lack of confidence. Christina was able to help build Luna’s confidence and help her overcome many of her fears. Luna went into training unable to walk on any flooring or in any new spaces. within a few weeks of our training with Christina, Luna walked through an entire store with automatic sliding doors and weird flooring without pancaking herself to the floor. I am so thankful for Christina and her training. she has helped turn Luna into a completely new dog who is confident and is able to enjoy walks with other dogs and being able to visit new places..."