Conquering Fear While Looking Hip

In addition to lots of new puppy or new dog to family kinds of clients I have, as well as people working through typical adolescent angst behaviors, or adjusting a new dog to a household with preexisting pets, etc., I get a lot of clients with dogs with somewhat serious issues. Perhaps they have developed an over-the-top and often dangerous [to self or others] repertoire of fear based behaviors. These behaviors are stemming from a more or less moderate-severe anxiety based disorder. The source or cause of the behavior might have been dramatic, or it might have been remarkably undramatic and thus not obvious. But because the owners are committed to helping the anxious dog, and often have tried medication or even other trainers, but somehow found out or been referred to me.

A quick telephone intake helps me assess the dynamics going on that my services can readjust. Like a chiropractor, I go in and readjust. There is often quite a bit of doubt that yet another trainer/option can really help, and in as few as one long session, as the behaviors seem quite hopeless.

I frequently have the pleasure of driving north a wee bit to the neighboring county of Ashtabula where I’m getting lots of interesting clientele from Dr. Rebecca Salinger of Austinberg Veterinary Clinic. [The prevailing training sentiment in more rural Ashtabula is limited greatly to a traditional or force based you-do-it-or-else approach. Dr. Salinger and her clinic want to bring a better way to her neck of Northeast Ohio and it’s been a real treat and honor to be bringing a positive holistic approach to the area.]

One such trip out there was with a pair of very pleasant nice empty-nesters, S & J, who live in a very lovely, comfortable lake-front home along the shores of Lake Erie. H, a 4 year old intact Bearded Collie, had lived with this couple since a pup, but had escalated his fear based behaviors into ones that put both dog and owners, primarily S, at risk when he became overstimulated by triggers.

H had not been their first Bearded Collie, but he arrived to their home in the dead of winter at 7 weeks old. Because it is harder to socialize pups in the freezing, dark, snowy cold of a midwest winter, H led a very understimulated early puppy life coupled with a ton of affection from S no matter what he did, allowing his natural fear to be reinforced by the best of her intentions. He did attend a few dog shows, but showed NO interest in the ring. He clearly didn’t bond with J, and when S did leave the house and H was left behind, the shaggy dog would run upstairs, throw himself with a pout on the bed and wait amid her pillows until she returned.

When S wasn’t showering him with love she was struggling an with tension both figurative and, literally, with a leash and a rear attaching harness on walks in a nearby baseball field. The triggering event that led to my visit has been a dramatic reaction he had had while at the field to a flapping plastic bag. He knocked S off her feet, wriggled maniacally out of his harness and took off. He was eventually recaptured — but not without effort as his recall was most unreliable, especially when he was a bit flittery from scary things!

In my work with H, along with his eventual warming up to me after his initial bucking bronco sort of reaction when I attached him to me by a euroleash first thing, I saw he had a lot of triggers and he would escalate very quickly, like a Ferrari on a straightaway.

After H was responding quite well to my directions and finally seemed to understand I was either neutral or a very good thing to him, I fitted him first with a no pull harness and then, later, a medium Har-Vest. I have seen this now literally dozens of times — a dog who is previously completely unruly on rear attaching harnesses, collars, slip collars, choke chains, prong collars — seem to find the fitted effect and change of balance completely calming and suddenly walk with no effort. The degree varies but with H it dramatic.

Switching between the harness alone (essentially the skeleton to Har-Vest) and the Har-vest, we realized the Har-Vest had more benefit. Not only did it fit him even more securely (H is a very long haired Beardie), but we determined that 1/2 lb. of weight (rice or beans in a ziploc sandwich bag) in each pocket further “sedated” H and allowed for a calmer affect and a more soothing, confident, fun walk.

It’s hard to describe in words and is often something that has to be seen to be believed. Buy a Har-Vest for a 30 day risk free trial and see for yourself.

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