This case study features Apollo, a 1 year old, male doberman pinscher. Apollo was raised in a loving home, with a big backyard, where the family would play endless amounts of fetch in the hopes of tiring him out.
The husband was in the military and wanted Apollo to be a family companion and guard dog when he was deployed.
This dream vision did not line up with reality. Apollo was not a confident guard dog, in fact he became extremely anxious anytime he was left alone. He became destructive, had accidents and barked incessantly. Apollo jumped all over the wife anytime he wanted food, attention, playtime or to be let outside. No one felt comfortable taking Apollo on walks because he pulled anxiously throughout every walk.
If Apollo’s behavior did not change, the wife was nervous that Apollo would unintentionally injure her, her one year or her unborn baby with his unrestrained hyper-activity. They felt he would have to be rehomed.
This family was referred to me through another trainer that felt they were not capable of meeting Apollo’s training needs. Apollo stayed with me for a three week board and train. As with all good training, it starts with connection.
I began working with Apollo at meal time to teach him to focus and engage with me. These routine exercises helped to develop bedrock on which all other skills can be built upon. At this time I worked with a team to help manage Apollo’s anxieties. We made sure that he was not left alone to rehearse his anxieties, while we taught him how to regulate his anxiety and develop better coping strategies.
These skills were then transferred to the wife. She learned how to implement daily training exercises that were simple enough for her to do with a toddler. She also learned to play fetch in a manner that got Apollo thinking and communicating, and minimized hyper-active behavior, like compulsively barking and jumping for the toy. Last but not least, as Apollo’s anxiety subsided, his ability to engage with people on walks steadily improved. Apollo grew into the family dog they hoped he would become.