Julia and Nico came to us as a referral from our friends over at Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue. Julia had recently rescued Nico and, well, let’s just say his behavior left something to be desired. Julia thought that maybe his behavior would “just work itself out.” When it comes to problem behaviors, this is never the case.

At the dog park, Nico was extremely rude and reactive to other dogs. He was also leash reactive on walks. When guests came to the home, Nico became aggressive, growling and would not let people enter (Ray got to experience this first hand!). Four weeks into their relationship, Julia was at a loss and unsure whether they were a good match for each other.

Fast forward to today…

We just completed the family’s fourth training session and they all have a new “leash” on life!

Nico was a rescue dog that had come with some fear-based issues. As with many clients, inadvertent lack of leadership inside the home caused these behavioral problems to escalate…both inside and outside. We take a holistic approach to all behavior problems and our training always starts inside the home. We worked with Julia and her family to implement the rules and structure in Nico’s life as well as introduce proper leash handling techniques. To help Nico gain confidence and give the family a clear and concise way to communicate with him, we introduced basic obedience commands using marker training. Obedience training gives an owner a way to manage their dog and also provides the dog with a job. It also helps to strengthen the bond between handler and dog and increase the dog’s attention on the owner.

Nico now knows that when the doorbell rings, he must go to his “place” and wait, calmly, before he is allowed to get up and greet guests. Ray was very relieved to see that Nico no longer wanted to eat him as he walked through their doorway :) . Today’s training session addressed some lingering leash reactivity issues. We trained a mutually exclusive behavior (typically we use commands like “leave it” or a “look at me” command) and leash handling was cleaned up. Then we put our own kids to work! Nero and Luna helped us put Nico through an intense desensitization training session. We often use our dogs in training sessions, it allows us to introduce client’s dogs to other dogs in a very controlled and calm environment. As you can see by the photo above, by the end of the session, he was sitting in the middle of two dogs without so much as a second glance.

At the end of the session, Nico was wagging his tail, and then curled up for a cuddle in Julia’s arms. I’m 100% sure that Julia is no longer wondering if they are a good match for each other :)! We are so honored to be a part of Nico’s journey…what an amazing family!