Well, Junior is finally in rehab! When I first met Junior I thought he might have a neurological problem. His eyes darted back and forth like a child that spins himself around in a tight circle for 5 minutes and then suddenly stops! There was NO focus, just quickly darting eyes back and forth…..back and forth. He was checked thoroughly by a vet and nope-nothing neurological. After a few months and many hours of effort by his supporting dog rescue volunteers and some kind folks where he was boarded, his eyes did slow down somewhat but still lots of darting. However, everyone that knows Junior or has worked with Junior, knows he just could not focus or acknowledge people. It was definitely a severe case of “Dog ADHD!” Junior had already been with a trainer for 2 weeks and was still attacking every other dog he came in contact with, tearing every crate apart and pulling rescuer’s arm’s off when they tried to walk him. Junior was un-adoptable and was down to his last chance. My “3 dog days” program was all he had left, so I agreed to give it a shot. Junior’s behavior was like a bull that charges through doorways and reacts with first, excitement; then aggression toward other dogs. He was distracted by everything and was basically uncontrollable. Humans couldn’t get him to learn much or change his behavior because his mind seemed – for a lack of a better word – scrambled.
What I discovered, after taking two hours to get him to my house and settle down, was he had a serious case of anxiety. Anxiety that was being fed by his mistaken belief that he had to pay attention to every noise. I mean EVERY noise -the wind, a leaf blowing, the house settling. Medium noises also frighten him, but strangely, he wasn’t really afraid of big noises. He froze with 100 tiny moments of fear everyday. At first all dog parents can see is super excitement then aggression. So in dog rehab, step one is guiding them to settle down and then you can see the more subtle body language of fear and anxiety. Meaning, getting rid of over-excitement is peeling back the first layer, the second layer is extinguishing the fear-freezing, the third layer is guiding them toward acceptable behaviors and games that fulfill them. No this, but yes this. During the 3 Dog Days’ Program, keeping him under control and giving guidance every day of the 3 days, Junior settled and his eyes stopped darting. I disagreed (a small touch on the hip or saying “hey” in a calm but firm voice) EVERY time he froze or paid attention to a noise. After that, things got better fast. I continued with my “3 Dog Days” guidance for about a month because Junior was such a severe case. I also used my respectful Soft E program to stop the dog aggression and now Junior is adopted and has a new family! I’m especially thankful Junior has a new Boy to walk him and love him. Welcome to happily ever-after Junior!