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Update: Hanani’s Reform School Progress

Thanx again to several fine folks that contributed to get Hanani started in “reform school” 🙂 She has been doing well and we work at least 3-4 hours a day–which is why I have neglected posting this update for a while. Sorry about that! But I now have a moment today to catch you up on Hanani’s reform school progress.

New Training Method

Branden, from Offleash K9 Training, resides in my neighborhood. He’s “one of those”, too. One of those people that get excited about a challenging dog to train! Branden has been so thorough, explains everything very well, is a great listener and amazingly attentive to dog language. Working with him has been a blessing and his observant feedback has been priceless.

This new training method is not necessarily “new”. It is just new to me. Offleash K9 uses ecollars in their training programs. I was looking for a method and tools that pose the least amount of stress to help Hanani get beyond her “issues”. She is already an extremely high-drive dog. Add anxiety and specific fears on top of that and a 90 pound pup suddenly becomes a very dangerous animal. I shared in another post that the prong collar became too stressful for her (Problems with Prong Collars). She needed something that gets her attention, holds her attention, yet without adding stress to her already hot buttons.

This ecollar, and the training that goes along with it, seems to be the ticket.

Hanani muzzle 12.2018bMy experiences with Hanani never seem to fail to remind me how much I need trained! I have trained dogs since I was 13 years young, yet this pup somehow has turned everything up-side-down…including me! Never have I ever had a dog that I could not keep under control, let alone knock me over. Only once had Hanani got out of my control. Now we can add knocking me flat on my head to her list of “never have I ever’s”! Our second session, Friday (7/5/2019), Hanani could take it no longer and went after Branden and I went down. Thank God for fearless men, adequate muzzles and strength to at least hold onto the leash.

To her credit, this was only the second time she met Branden and all this ecollar stuff is new to her as well. Still, I felt so silly! After that incident, Branden asked me to give him the leash saying, “Now she’s mine.” Within less than a half hour of walking her around, Hanani was sitting by his side while we talked and, eventually, leaned into his leg. She continued to keep an eye on him, but finally let him pet her.

Hanani wMichelle PS d 1.8.2019 (2)

When I saw the look in her eyes and watched her lean into his leg, I got all teary. That always gets me, mainly because she truly does not understand…but is beginning to.

Triggers

Hanani, like many dogs, has “triggers”–specific things, situations, actions, various stimuli, to which they just simply react. That reaction is often borne of instinct and usually requires little to no thought.  The idea here is to get them to think and introduce alternatives to their normal reaction. When those instincts had been enticed and reinforced under not so great circumstances (ie: being isolated as a pup) it becomes much more difficult to retrain the dog.

For instance, although Branden was not acting all crazy, he was doing seemingly little things to add pressure to Hanani while we talked. She did well for the most part, but thing that finally set her off was when he waved his arms. Not flailing, not overtly, and not really in an unusual way, but waved them just enough that Hanani could not take it.

Previously, I figured that was one of my pup’s terribly hot buttons, or triggers. Now the main focus is to, essentially, reprogram those triggers. Even if she never fully gets over it, we can get it under control. That’s where lots of prayer and hard work come in.

Next Things

The next post we’ll talk more about triggers, because I believe it is a topic that will help many folks and their pups out there. Another post we will go more in depth about the ecollars. For now, we simply want to get this update out to you.

Today (July 12th, 2019) was Hanani’s third meet with Branden. Of course, she attempted to go after him (again) a couple times, but all in all she is progressing–and Branden agrees! We worked on “place” a few times as Branden moved closer. Eventually, he took the leash and began to work her a bit. Of course she balked, but gave in much sooner and easier than previously. Not long afterward, she was walking with him in “Heal” position up and down the street, even with me out of sight.

For the next update I plan to post some photos (and hopefully video) of them working together. Mia is still trying to figure out the camera, so we may have Jamie be our video tech 😉

My pup has a few triggers and I am one.

Bottom line, though, is that my pup has a few triggers and I am one of them. Her instinctive desire to protect me raises the temperature on her already hot buttons (ie: strangers approaching, other dogs, etc). Next session Branden is bringing another trainer to help test and work her through these triggers. He even said he may pop in randomly through the week to see how Hanani responds.

In the meantime, I am working her hard 3-4 hours each day–and that is on top of our daily, around the house routine. I emphasize this to help readers understand the dedication, consistency and time it takes to help a pup–especially with a drive like a Dutchie–overcome her fears and, essentially, reprogram some triggers. Hanani is on her way to becoming a safe pup!

Please check back with us next week to keep up on our progress! One of my goals is to encourage others with similar dog issues that there is hope!

On that note…

Let us lift up Offleash K9 Training (particularly Branden Barnes) for their amazing work. There are many dog training theories, methods and tools out there and, frankly, some of them are quite ridiculous. There are as many dog trainers–from great to ridiculous and everything in between. However, there are a good number of concrete, sensible methods, taught by intuitive, dedicated trainers that just simply have the heart for the work. And that has been my experience with Offleash K9. OLK9-Cleveland_Logo_Full-Clr

As I hope you all have seen here with Hanani, it may take sorting through different methods and trainers to find what works for your dog. Recall that we worked with Michelle for a bit, and then Leah was a huge help. Both of these ladies are fabulous, attentive, sensible trainers with the gift and heart for the work–particularly “difficult” dogs. But it took just the right combination: Great trainer, working with concrete and sensible theories/methods, along with just the right tools to gain any progress with Hanani. Much prayer and dilligence brought Branden + ecollar + Offleash K9 (theories/methods), which is “the” equation that brought hope into a nearly impossible situation.

We discovered “the” equation to finally make progress 🙂

Although we’re not yet close to where we need to be, we are well on our way. Time, dedication, consistency will all prove to help this great dog become what she is intended. The next step, after our last class (this coming Friday 7/19), is to upgrade our package with Offleash K9 so that Branden can continue to assist with Hanani’s growth. We will soon re-launch our fundraiser to acquire the $300 needed for her extended training at this crucial time.

Final thought, for now

Let me leave you with this thought… Yesterday, after only 3 weeks of working Hanani daily with this new training, I was able to have a pleasant, uninterrupted chat with my neighbor over the back fence while Hanani and Mia played in the yard.

Yeah… I can see a CGC certification in her future 😉

 

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