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#1 waffles

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 02:52 PM

Some of you may remember that our boy Levi was petrified of other dogs when we got him a year and a half ago. He was already a year and a half old at the time, raised outside on a farm with his only exposure to other dogs being the ones he lived with. The male dogs were not nice to him. So when we brought him home he would cower, growl, tail tucked to his belly at the sight of any dog within a few houses of us. We would be on a walk and he was terrified of any dog, no matter size or demeanor, he wanted nothing to do with them. In the time we have had him he has met hundreds of dogs of all kinds. Most people would have thought he was on the edge of fear aggressive (even though he has never harmed a dog) with dogs but we worked endlessly with him to build his confidence and he made slow steady progress. It took 5 months before he even showed interest on his own in another dog. He quickly got to the point of tolerating polite dogs but couldn't stand annoying rude dogs. Over time he has built up a lot more patience for rude dogs (mostly because he knows we will step in before he has to). We can take him to friends and family's houses and he can get along with dogs he originally hated in the beginning. He has no problem now hiking, swimming and playing ball with other dogs around but pretty much ignores them the whole time.

But, I always said I secretly wanted him to have 1 friend, just 1 dog he could play with-actually roughhouse with. I loved that he was okay with almost all dogs and that was more than enough for me. I was just happy he wasn't living in fear every time we left the house that he might have to meet a strange dog.

However... last night, we saw him for the first time ever... play! with a dog!!! Typically if a dog tried to play with him he would chase them off or freeze and whine out of anxiety. But, we just moved to a rural area with land and our neighbors 9 month old female husky (a dog that would have been his worst nightmare before) kind of wanders all over. They met once last week and all was fine but she came over last night when we were out and in 5 minutes they were romping, jumping, chasing, nibbling ears, punching each other...I couldn't believe what was happening and it went on for 20min til it was dark. All the hard work we did had already paid off but this was icing on the cake. This was truly unbelievable. He looked like a puppy, so blissfully happy. We spent so much time doing LAT, exposing him to situations to challenge him and making sure we stepped in when he was about to be overwhelmed. I have on countless occasions grabbed strangers dogs that were barreling at him and given owners a lesson on why they shouldn't allow their dogs to run up to strangers. It was not always easy and he still meets dogs every so often he doesn't care for,, he is still a border collie that has a large personal space bubble with dogs.

I wanted to give a little hope and inspiration for others who have fearful dogs. With a lot of patience and the right knowledge (my dog has taught me a lot!) you really can bring your dog up to a level where you both can enjoy life together more. Don't be afraid to push yourself and your dog, just know your limits. I remember a lot of people told me I should just deal with his fear cause that was just how he was. I did not think that was fair to my dog. He shouldn't live in fear and his life is 100x's better now. He doesn't have to stay home when we go somewhere with other dogs and he is so much more confident.

#2 beachdogz

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 06:31 PM

I'm so glad when people post this kind of story. I have a shelter dog that I got 7 months ago, and he also will not play with my other two. I think that he never had an opportunity to do so (or he had a bad experience), since when they try to instigate play, he turns his head to avoid eye contact. You can tell he just doesn't understand it and it is almost like a survival tactic that he turns away from them. I am hoping he will eventually learn to join in, although if he doesn't, that is ok with me, too. One thing I am learning is that these things take time. But I am so happy to read that it finally clicked for your dog and maybe it will also click for mine.
"Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely, the world will be changed for that one dog"

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#3 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:02 PM

Waffles, this is absolutely the BEST ending to your and Levi's story!! I'm so very proud of you and all the smart, thoughtful work you've done with him. Congratulations and God bless on helping Levi learn to be the dog he was meant to be. What a glorious, happy day for all concerned! :)

~ Gloria
You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself that my father bought me. They are better than human beings, because they know but do not tell. ~ Emily Dickinson

To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~ Milan Kundera

#4 ChantalB

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:29 PM

This made me extremely happy to read. This should be one of those posts that circulate the dog worlds, so people know there is light at the end of the tunel, hard work does pay off

#5 waffles

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:41 AM

Thanks guys! I definitely got some help from this board as well. I am also lucky that we have a lot of friends and family with bombproof, rude, annoying, friendly dogs who didn't mind us bringing our snappy grouchy dog over. There were plenty of times where Levi had to be separated so he could get a break in a basement or the car but if it weren't for some of the dogs we know I may never have had the confidence to really push him. It didn't take long to realize that he was not out to fight dogs but that he was indeed the more polite dog who taught other dogs how to interact with a strange dog. It has been so fun to watch him gain confidence and be okay in the presence of other dogs. My brother in-law has a reactive Boston Terrier that used to lunge at Levi's neck whenever Levi showed his teeth. Now, he has taught the Boston how to back off when told to and now they actually go swimming in the creek together, tugging on the same stick and sniffing the same spots side by side. I never gave up thinking that dogs are naturally social and should be able to interact with each other and have better lives when they have dog friends.

#6 alligande

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:56 AM

Great post, thanks for sharing Levi's success

#7 mbc1963

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 09:46 AM

I love stories like this! The great joy of seeing a fearful dog PLAY without reservation is unbeatable! :D

Congratulations.

Mary


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