Home Success Stories Karen's Story
I have been involved in German Shepherd rescue for ten years and have had eight German Shepherds, all rescues. I always had great luck in terms of behavior. My dogs had some bad health problems, and maybe because of that they were all pretty mellow. But Trump and Timber were different. They were my first healthy GSDs, and they were a handful. Like my other dogs, these two are rescues. They were picked up as strays, so I don’t know their backgrounds, but they clearly had not been socialized. GSD rescue works hard to place dogs in foster homes, but when these two came in there was a lack of homes, so they were kenneled which only added to their socialization problems. By the time I adopted them they had been kenneled for a long time and were pretty beaten up mentally.
I brought Trump home first. He was more energetic than my previous dogs had been, in fact he was really a handful. Timber came home a few months later. He was basically a good dog, but he took his cue from Trump and things began to spin out of control. Trump was rambunctious and didn’t recognize any limits at all. Pretty soon Timber was behaving just like Trump. The two of them fed off each other’s energy and the behavior got worse.
It took me a few years to realize how bad things had gotten, but by the time I called Anne I felt like my whole life was out of control. Going for walks was awful. The dogs controlled the walks, not me. If they saw another dog, they dragged me over to check it out. I know they looked scary to other people and I couldn’t stop them. I was afraid I would eventually get pulled down and hurt. Things weren’t much better in the house. Getting out the door for a walk was an ordeal. They would get so excited about going out they actually damaged the door. The barking was out of control too. They would go nuts every time a dog walked by the house and had torn up a window sill. They took food off the kitchen counter right in front of me. My house and my relationship with my dogs was chaos.
I called Anne because she would come to my house to work on my dogs’ specific issues in their own environment. I had done group classes in the past, but an obedience class wasn’t going to address the behavior issues Trump and Timber were having. I also knew that Anne had experience with a lot of different types of dogs as well as with the bigger, tougher breeds.
When Anne came to my house for the first time, I was immediately impressed by her presence with dogs. In a matter of minutes she had Trump and Timber totally calm. Just her stance, her behavior made them calm. And they really enjoyed the training. They were motivated by the Dog Savvy techniques and I saw positive changes immediately. Before I started working with Anne, I thought maybe the dogs were stupid, but when I changed to the Dog Savvy approach I saw how much they were really capable of.
Toenails are a good example. Before I got help from Anne, Trump wouldn’t let me touch his paws. I had to take him to the vet to have his nails trimmed. They had to muzzle him and get six people to hold him down. He was being traumatized by that experience and I knew something had to change, but it seemed impossible. I couldn’t believe it, but Anne had Trump letting us do his nails in one 45 minute session. As we worked on him, Timber watched what was happening. I could see that he was making the connection too: “Okay, if I do this, good things happen.” By the time we got to Timber, he was easy.
After I had worked with Anne for a couple of weeks, my life became calmer, not just with my dogs, but for me personally. I had felt for a long time that Trump and Timber were running my life, and suddenly that wasn’t the case. I had control of my life again. Pretty soon we were able to get out the door calmly and go for walks with me in control. If Trump and Timber saw another dog, I could quickly get them back in line. Things were much calmer and quieter around the house. And the dogs were happier too.
The bottom line is, I learned more from Anne in an hour than I learned in an eight week course from a trainer who specializes in GSDs. Over the course of our lessons, she showed me techniques that really worked. I came away from our sessions feeling good, knowing I could be successful with the things she was teaching me. I felt really comfortable with Anne too. She works in a way that’s non-assertive, but effective. She’s not judgmental. With Anne you never feel that you have a bad dog, or you’re a bad person. Her approach is just about making the situation work. Anne makes people feel comfortable in who they are in order to get the best results with their dogs.
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned from Anne is that changing your relationship with your dog is not so much about training the animal as it is about redefining your own behavior, and I think that carries through to a lot of other things in life. Anne has a connection to animals, but she has a connection to people in a therapeutic way. Really, she’s better than my therapist. I learned so much from her. Working with Anne changed my perspective on things in my life beyond my dogs. Dog Savvy changed my life and that’s just the kind of thing you want to share.