WOW - Our dog is STRONG!
From the first day
that we had Maggie, one thing was clear: Maggie was strong and would
only be getting stronger. She is a puppy and naturally pretty high
energy. Immediately on walks, she was distracted and pulling every
which way when she saw a squirrel, cat, dog or anything else that moved
(even falling leaves!).
We noticed that she was
really reactive to other dogs while on leash. I don't even remember now
if she was barking and whining right off the bat or if we helped make
her that way (possibly both). Either way, she had become a "reactive"
dog. The problem was that she was sick when we first adopted her and
then recovering from her spay surgery SO she couldn't be around other
dogs for almost a month! All of a sudden, we had a healthy dog who
could finally mingle but honestly, we didn't know if she was aggressive
or just excited to play.
We took Maggie to an
obedience school class (her first time being in close proximity to other
dogs) and she just went NUTS! The trainers couldn't help at all. They
gave Mags a bag of treats and a gentle leader while trying to get her
to calm down via positive reinforcement. It didn't really work. She
was still nuts when we left the training room.
The Fouche Way
Seeking help, I reached out to a local dog rescue in Los Angeles called Downtown Dog Rescue. The founder, Lori, and a frequent volunteer, Debbie, strongly recommended that we take Maggie to Brandon Fouche.
Brandon is a dog behaviorist and is touted in LA as being a "dog
whisperer". He seems to work wonders with dogs that are unruly or
After Maggie's failed attempt at obedience school, we
decided to contact Brandon to set up an evaluation. We wanted a safe,
structured environment in which we could test Maggie's reaction to other
dogs. Brandon had us fill out a short survey and then asked us to drop
Maggie off at his facility at 9:30am. He sat with us and one other
couple for over an hour while we talked about the difference between the
way we treat dogs and the way dogs actually think. He told us that the
toys we gave to our dog were reinforcing "the hunting instinct" in
her. Brandon began to explain the way we treat dogs (give them lots of
love and affection, no matter their actions) and how we can change our
thinking to interact with Maggie in a way that would promote our status
as her pack leader.
Well, despite our skepticism as to how
much could change in just one day, we were pleasantly surprised.
Maggie wasn't aggressive! She was just really excited and most likely
under socialized as a puppy. She needed to spend more time around dogs
in a safe environment with supervision. Mags had a blast that day with
She came out to see us and was in a
submissive state, something we rarely saw her in (ears back, sitting,
very quiet and obedient). Brandon taught us his methods of what I call
"tough love" (because I'm a softie
and hate yelling at my adorable pooch). We had to take control and set
boundaries for Maggie. We needed to show her through raising our voice
that we were the bosses.
Brandon's evaluation with
Maggie helped us immensely, mostly because he showed us what to do in
person. We obviously weren't getting to what we needed just by reading
stuff online or watching Cesar Millan videos. We needed in-person tutoring.
Brandon was pricey but ultimately worth every penny. Maggie is a
different dog with us now. We're still working on her reactivity during
walks but she's gotten MUCH better. We now feel like we can also stop
her when she gets into her hyper crazy mode inside the apartment. She
hasn't mouthed either one of us in two weeks! The last issue we need to
work out is her barking while we're gone and she's crated but compared
to the mountain of problems we had before, we're ready to help her
become the superdog we know she was born to be!