Poppy is my three year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound, and I have had her since she was nine weeks old. I take all blame for her behavior issues. Poppy and I worked very diligently with a trainer as a puppy, to at least have her learn some basic skills, ie leash training, sit/stay, recall, etc. As a puppy, she always had issues with resource guarding, but it was not with her food, toys, bones, etc., her resource guarding issues were with garbage items that she would find along the side of the road. Our difficulties were mainly with things like tuna cans (or cat/dog food cans), muffin papers, McDonald’s wrappers, etc. Poppy had no issues with people, until it came time for someone to try and take these items from her. She would become quite aggressive and would bite anything that was close enough to her. Unfortunately, more often than not, it was one of my body parts. I was at my wits end, as I have a number of younger family members, who would not know better enough to stay away from her when she had something that she shouldn’t. I could not run the risk of having her bite one of them. I spoke with my vet, and we initially started her on a course of Prozac to see if that would take the “edge” off of her reactive behaviors – this of course was a band-aid for the situation. I had previously talked to a number of the staff members at our vet office, about off-leash training and reactivity training (Poppy had been attacked by a German Shepherd, and got quite aggressive each time we encountered one).
Ted’s name came up in each conversation, he would be able to work with me and help Poppy at the same time. It took me some time to get my head around the fact that I did indeed have a dog that would/could be described as aggressive. I finally decided in July of this year (while Poppy was still on Prozac) to go ahead and contact Ted. We had our initial consultation and he told me that he could work us through this and rehab Poppy into a well behaved dog, saving her from the worst-case scenario of having to be euthanized (which was something the vet had told me that I should consider). After weaning Poppy off of the Prozac, we were able to start our work with Ted. One of our biggest issues that we worked diligently on was increasing Poppy’s food drive/motivation, as it just didn’t exist. We had to have a food drive in order for the rest of the training to start to have an effect on her. I won’t lie, watching him work with her was emotionally upsetting, as up until this point, I was the only one that had really eye-witnessed her aggression.
During our second session with Ted, while working on her resource guarding of the tuna can, Ted got to see her “true colors” – I cried as I watched him work her through her paces. She would have bitten him if she had gotten the chance to do so. By the end of the session, she wanted nothing to do with the tuna can. Ted and I both regret not having videotaped that session so that we could do a comparison of the before and after training sessions. Her third session with Ted was all about spending time around Ted’s Malinois Shepherds – it took some time and effort on both their parts, but by the end of the session, Poppy could come within a couple of feet of the dogs and not react. Our fifth session with Ted was quite emotional for me. We worked on the protocol that he uses for resource guarding and he did the motions with her first, then he had me go through the paces with her – I had never been “brave” enough to try and take the tuna can away from Poppy, but at the end of this session, I was doing it without even thinking about it.
Ted videotaped this for me, and I will remember it for the rest of my life, as this was a life altering moment for both Poppy and me!! I stood there and cried, realizing what Poppy and I had just accomplished. Family, friends and neighbors have all commented on how well behaved Poppy is and that she can greet them and then either sit and wait for me to finish talking with them (if we are outside) or when inside mingle with everyone and go to her bed and be content. It is now a pleasure to walk Poppy, as opposed to the chore it had become before our training with Ted. Poppy and I continue to learn and grow through our group sessions with Ted, our next goal is to be able to have Poppy off-leash and me be in total control of her, and we are getting there with Ted’s help. I would recommend Ted in a heartbeat as he has given me my dog back and he has given her a “new leash on life”, quite literally!!
Betty and Poppy