My best friend in the entire world (next to my husband) has a sweet 2 and 1/2 year old Boxer named Brooke. When I first met Brooke, she was not quite 2 and had the calmest, most pleasant disposition I had ever witnessed. The boxer breed has, unfortunately, gained a pretty rough reputation for being aggressive and powerful. Well, Brooke seemed to think she was a little lap dog.
A few months ago, she had her first litter of puppies – 9 in all. If you know much about dogs, you know that this is very unusual for a first litter. She did wonderfully and the pups were extremely healthy, as was the mamma. As soon as it was time to ween the puppies, my friend brought her exhausted Brooke home. We all expected the transition to be tough on her, but we did not entirely understand the behaviour problems that arose.
Brooke, who had always had a bit of an anxious streak, dipped into a very severe separation anxiety that would cause carpets and window coverings extensive damage…not to mention the drywall holes caused by ripping the curtains and rod off the wall. I can remember my best friend sitting on my couch almost in tears, with frustration and a feeling of loss, not knowing how to handle her beautiful boxer. This was about 2 weeks after bringing her home, and many areas of damage for both owner and dog.
Right around the same time Brooke came home, I had really begun to sense myself drawn to working with troubled dogs and their owners. What better practice for me then to help one of my favourite dogs in the world and my best friend. Roughly 4 weeks ago, I began working with Brooke 3 days a week to reduce the constant anxiety and fear she was experiencing through a rigorous regime of exercise – both physical and psychological. She took to the challenge excellently, and within the first two days, we saw improvement not only with her anxiety, but also with her fear of men. My husband played an integral role in the rehabilitation of this lovely girl, just by keeping a calm and assertive, non-aggressive attitude around her.
Separation Anxiety: 4 weeks of consistent exercise, direction, and affection by both me, my husband, and – mostly – my newly trained best friend, has given all of us hope. She is back to the wonderfully calm Brooke who does not break out of her kennel, even with the door open. There is no more accidents on the carpet, or anxiousness towards unfamiliar noises inside the house.
Fear of Men: 2 weeks of consistent exposure to men, being walked by my wonderful husband, and re-training the constant men in her life, and Brooke is no longer cowering, growling, or in fear of most men. She still struggles sometimes with strangers who try to approach too quickly. Work in progress.
Fear on the Walk: 4 weeks of constant exercise and consistent schedule of walking and Brooke is practically the ideal dog on the leash. She still struggles with loud distractions, but she no longer cowers or hides when passing by humans on the walk. She also walks perfectly alongside my little Cocker Spaniel Morpheous.
Appetite: After puppies, Brooke had a hard time eating properly and had lost a substantial amount of weight. Not something any of us were comfortable with. 1 day of strenuous exercise and every day for the past 4 weeks of consistent walks and exercise has completely reversed this issue. The first day I had her, she ate a full bowl of food as a reward for a great walk and great progress in her psychological exercises. She also ate about 4 feet away from my dog who was also eating. This was unheard of for both the dogs and was a great treat for myself to see the transformation!
I am going to continue working with this wonderful pup and her owner. I am hoping to be able to take her and Morph with me to help the other troubled dogs on my list. We are also planning on certifying both dogs as Therapy Dogs as soon as we think they’re ready 🙂 Watch out world, we’re going to balance you out one dog at a time!!