Rock is a “special needs” dog. Rock appeared on my doorstep when she
was about 6 months old. Best I can tell, Rock some sort of Staffordshire Bull Terrier/Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix. She is a beautiful brindle, is a little over 13″ at her withers and weighs less than 20 lbs. She’s a lot of dog in a little package.
I suspect Rock came from a dog fighting environment where she was
or was going to be used as a “bait” dog. She has extreme fear agression
towards other dogs, except to one of my other dogs, Buffy. She is a truly special & good dog and I feel she deserves all the help she could get to ease her fears and be the best dog she can be. After many sessions with other behaviorists & trainers in the area, Rock & I began working with Jan. I knew who Jan was from the agility trials.
She always looked like she was having fun running with her dogs no
matter what happened out there. I liked Jan’s attitude and knew I needed to work on mine. I also liked the way she was with her min pins; I wanted to work with someone who liked small, crazy terriers. I also wanted to work with someone who wasn’t prejudiced against rescues or mixed/any breeds. Jan fit the bill. Rock & I had already made much progress. Rock was the most obedient dog I had – if her fear agression hadn’t been triggered. Much of our training had been done with the use
of clicker training (another reason for working with Jan was her
positive training methods which included clicker training). I worked very hard at controlling her environment to reduce the triggers that would set off her fear aggression. While I was good at reading Rock’s behavior and anticipating her reactions, I still didn’t know how to change her reactions to a more positive response.
I realized I couldn’t always control the environment. I also realized I sometimes made situations worse because of my reactions. Jan’s first task was to work on me. We worked on how I should be with Rock when she reacts. I feel more confident with Rock which has given Rock more confidence in herself to change her reaction to events going on
Rock is the big success story! She has made so much progress. When
we started with Jan, she wouldn’t take any eye contact with other dogs
if the dogs were within a certain distance from her. Eye contact constituted a challenge for Rock. Her only reaction was to try to kill the other dog. Once she reacted to another dog, the only way to calm her down was to completely remove her from the situation & keep her away from the environment for a while after she calmed down. It would then take several minutes for her to calm down to the point of taking
commands, taking treats, being touched. It was scary & upsetting to
watch. It is also heart-wrenching to see a dog so afraid, thinking it is in mortal danger when it isn’t. It takes great courage for a person to work with a dog exhibiting such behaviors.
Many people have thought I should have put Rock down, that she couldn’t be rehabilitated. Jan always had faith in Rock and Rock responded to that positive attitude. I believe we have succeeded in rehabilitating her. She now can calm down without being completely removed from the situation. She can walk around other dogs with no or little reaction. She frequently looks to me for a treat rather than react to a dog. If she does react, her reactions usually are fairly minor for Rock, such as a couple of barks, but she quickly responds to me and brings herself back under control. She can work off leash with other dogs on leash in the field with us.
She responds to commands even when I know she is agitated or
over-excited. Though Rock loves toys at home, she would never play with them when we trained. She now plays with toys! I think it is great that she feels safe enough to play away from our home. It is fun to watch Rock walk through an arena full of dogs, ignoring them in search of Jan because she heard her voice or caught her scent.
And yes, Rock trains in agility. She is doing awesome! Her weave poles are awesome! She’s finding entrances and doing the weaves at a fast speed! Her jumping is more effiencient (she likes to jump very high). She has a good grasp of the 2 on/2 off contact performance.
Rock and I work as a team when we run sequences. She isn’t interested
in running off. It is such a wonderful feeling! While we both have a lot or work to do, we have many successes that we build upon each day. It must be “kismet” that Rock is becoming rock solid at Rock Solid Dogs!