Case Study

Jax, Lily & Chopper

“Took the dogs for a four mile off leash hike and they are doing amazing, you are a master at what you do. Thanks again, Blair!”

-  Joe, Roseville CA

Issue

Jax, Lily, and Chopper are Jack Russell Terriers, and came to training together from the same household; Jax is the father of both Lily (3, female) and Chopper (3, male). Together they had several challenges: Human and dog aggression, growling/showing teeth, nuisance barking, no recall, insecurity/fearfulness, pulling on leash, jumping on people. Jax displayed aggression towards both of the siblings. This took several forms: He would guard the doggy door and wouldn’t let them in throughout the day (discovered through video camera footage). He would also growl at them, making them unable to pass him. Jax possessed bullying behavior towards the other two, but never physically attacked either dogs or humans. Jax would also try to control Chopper and Lily’s behavior (e.g. not allowing them to come into house and approach the owners), and Chopper and Lily would not fight back. All three of the dogs had difficulties on leash, and would pull and lunge while being walked. When approaching other dogs, Lily would yodel aggressively and spin in circles. All three dogs displayed aggressive behavior towards other dogs both on- and off-leash. Due to these factors, the owners couldn’t take them all on a walk together. Off-leash, they were also difficult to control: they would rule the home, and jumped on both furniture and humans. In addition, Jax displayed aggression towards his owners at times: he would growl at them in their own bed and on the couch when the owners would show affection to him, but he never bit them. When the dogs became focused on possible prey (such as a squirrel), they would not listen or come when called, for upwards of 45 minutes at a time.

Training

Board and Train with Guest Home Stay Program

Starting the 21-day program, Blair first had to establish with them that the human makes the rules and the dogs follow. This is perception modification before behavioral modification. As such, Jax was no longer the one in charge anymore; the human is in charge – and now all three are required to follow human commands.
Once leadership had been established by Blair, then he was able to start showing and exposing them to the world. Blair was able to teach the rules: all three dogs responded very well to both basic obedience and advanced obedience training.

Guest home training was integral to the training experience: being able to show the ‘behind the scenes’ to the owners, demonstrating how to problem solve, and showing critical thinking behind the training. The owners were then able to go home with the confidence of knowing how to handle their animals.

Chopper: Chopper was insecure and fearful; therefore, Blair had to be more sensitive with him. Blair determined that Chopper really wanted to please because he was scared, and during training was extra mindful not to crush his spirit (which would lead him to become more scared and unable to learn). When a dog doesn’t understand what you are communicating or teaching, they can shut down and become fearful, or extremely submissive and unresponsive to training. Once Chopper started to understand what was being taught, he was responsive to training, and his level of fear diminished greatly.

Lily: Lily was very confident and touch insensitive. Blair noted that she was very responsive to training and a quick learner.

Jax: Jax was very sensitive to touch, as well as psychological intimidation (i.e. using “mom eyes”). Blair noted that this was most likely because he was used to using that same tactic with his own pups to keep them in line.

Follow-up

When Blair arrived at in-home visit one month out from training, all the dogs were in place, as commanded by their owners. When Blair entered the room, the dogs stayed in their place, and the owners individually released them by name, one at a time.

This demonstrated how much the owners maintained, reinforced and continued what Blair had taught them.

Owner reinforcement was key to manage all three dogs.

Slight regression on walk: training needed to be tightened up a bit in this area. Dogs began to have issues again, and owners had difficulty with correcting in the moment. Once addressed and refreshed, there have been no more problems.

Keeping last in-home visit in the bank for when needed.

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