After we moved to our apartment complex in Austin this last October, Poppy’s behaviors became almost unbearable. Poppy is a sweet girl at home, and absolutely adores us and our family. But outside of our home she became an unpredictable animal who I often just couldn’t control. It made meeting new neighbors impossible, walking her with our other dog impossible, and even speaking to people I already knew impossible, because I couldn’t hear them over Poppy’s excessive barking whenever they came near. I felt like I was gaining the reputation in our apartment complex as “the person with the crazy dog” who people needed to avoid.
Getting ready to take Poppy on walks evoked deep feelings of anxiety for me and I would worry how many dogs and people we would have to pass along our route. When she would see another dog, a runner, a bike, or some cars she would bark, snarl and growl, scrambling with her feet and pulling as hard as she could. I was terrified at the thought of what might happen if a small child were to run up to her and move too quickly. I felt guilty because I felt like there must have been something I had done (or not done) that caused my sweet girl to act so irrationally and aggressive. Josh could walk her with less trouble, but it was still even difficult for him to keep control of her. I knew I had to act fast and get some help but I was at a loss of where to turn. I read extensively online about correcting problem behaviors in dogs, but I just couldn’t keep her attention when we were outside long enough for any of the methods I found to work when I needed them. We looked around at other training places in the area, some used techniques that I feel would be ineffective or make matters worse for reactive dogs. I’m so glad that we trusted our instincts and avoided the other trainers who didn’t seem to really “get” the issues Poppy was having – they didn’t really “get” Poppy.
Before we went to meet Cara for the first time I told Josh in the car, “If these people don’t ‘get it’ either, or if we get another weird vibe from them… Let’s just immediately tell them this ‘isn’t for us’ and leave. We’ll just walk out.” Josh and I both agreed. However, when we sat down with Cara for the first time, I was impressed that she asked questions other trainers didn’t seem to think were relevant, and I could tell by her questions she was getting more at the root of Poppy’s behavior and reactions. Despite my fears as to the possible causes of Poppy’s behavior – Cara never made me feel like I had done something to cause this behavior in Poppy. She seemed to only take her behavior as a starting point and come up with ways we could change Poppy’s behavior.
I have a Master’s Degree in Child Development and have an extensive background in psychological theories, including behaviorism, and was impressed that Cara’s methods are evidence-based and she tailors her various techniques based on her perceived motivations for a specific behavior/reaction rather than a blanket one-size-fits-all approach. Dogs are animals and certainly not children, but anyone who’s ever met more than one dog knows that they are very different from each other – with a lifetime of different experiences and very different underlying temperaments. Cara understands this, and uses this information to her advantage. I think that the reason FAR Beyond Training Program worked so well for us is because, with Cara’s help, we were able to better understand and then change the pattern of Poppy’s behavior. Poppy is now a model dog in our apartment complex and we are constantly getting compliments on “what a good girl she is.” I can even actually hear these comments from our neighbors now because Poppy is calming looking at me while sitting still next to my side – and not barking, growling and pulling!
The bottom line for me is that Buddy’s Chance’s training classes for reactive dogs works. It’s as simple as that. I now know that every week I delayed signing up for the training class was just another week of unnecessary anxiety for myself and another week of building up the reputation in my neighborhood as, “the lady and dog you need to avoid.” Poppy loves going on walks now, and I love taking Poppy on walks. Now when I see other dogs pulling on their leashes and lunging at us, I feel for their owners because I was just there. I know how embarrassing that was for me, and how much I blamed myself for not being able to correct it. I want to tell those owners with lunging and reactive dogs about Buddy’s Chance, but they usually can’t hear me over their own dogs’ barking, lunging and growling. But! If you have a reactive dog – you can “hear” my words through the text here instead – I really am so glad we decided on taking a chance with the FAR Beyond dog training classes. The quality of life for Josh and I has improved immensely and Poppy’s quality of life has improved immensely. There is no need to have to dread taking your dog on walks, going to a park, or just taking them to the vet. I highly encourage you to check out Buddy’s Chance. The price we paid for the classes was a freakin’ bargain just so I don’t have to feel that anxiety anymore.
You can quote me on that – “freakin’ bargain.” 😉
–Kara, Josh, and Poppy
The trainers at Buddy’s Chance made life with my fearful/aggressive dog a million times better.
I got my 1 year old Australian shepherd mix (now named “Walnut”) at the humane society, and I had no idea what I was getting into. In the visitation room, she was a little nervous but didn’t seem too freaked out. I attributed her skittish behavior to having just spent a weekend in the slammer, and figured she would chill out with time.
When I got her back to the house she did the following in pretty quick succession: Growled and charged at my neighbor, snapped at a guest, got in a fight with a neighbor’s dog, and destroyed everything at doggie-eye level. I knew I had two choices: Take her back to the pound, or get some professional help.
I am so glad I chose the latter of those options. At first, it was hard to come to terms with spending $500 bucks on a $60 dollar dog, but the money was WELL worth it. We received 2 private sessions and several class hours, making the package a terrific deal.
Now I possess the skills to build successful strategies for Walnut and I to take on just about any situation. Thanks to the F.A.R. course I also have the awareness to know when she is too stressed out and we just need to avoid a situation altogether.
Our initial package has run out, and as soon as I have the money, we will be back in class. Buddy’s chance very probably saved Walnut from death row, and taught me how to be a competent dog owner.
Don’t ignore your dog’s fearful or aggressive behaviors, it won’t get better by itself. Call Buddy’s Chance and get some relief for you and your furry friend.
Thanks again to Buddy’s Chance!
–Scott and Walnut
I have been taking my Border Collie, Pippin to Buddy’s Chance puppy classes since he was 9 or 10 weeks old. I believe that positive and consistent training is vital in developing a bond with a dog and I’m very grateful to the folks at Buddy’s Chance for helping me to get Pippin well socialized and off on the right foot (or paw) with his training. He has successfully completed Puppy I and Puppy II classes and we look forward to starting Nosework soon! If you have a dog with behavioral issues, a puppy that needs basic socialization and obedience or you just want to develop a greater bond with your pet I highly recommend Buddy’s Chance!
Judi Sawyer and Pippin