This case study features Lucky, a 3 year old, Korean Jindo. Lucky’s family raised him from birth with a family that lived in Queens, New York. They also owned Lucky’s mother.
Lucky was well cared for by his family, two teenage girls and their parents. The family hoped to take him out on regular walks, and for a harmonious life at home with him and Lucky’s mother.
However, Lucky was too fearful to go for walks. He was on high alert with every sound and movement and would pull to go back home with full force. They left heaping amounts of food available for him throughout the day, but he had little to know appetite due to chronic stress. As a result of this chronic stress he was very under-weight. Lucky also started to guard his uneaten food. He became aggressive with his biological mother when she approached the food bowl. Lucky also displayed aggressive behavior with his human family when they attempted to pet or groom him.
His family was becoming increasingly fearful of him, and did not feel that they would be able to keep him if his behavior did not improve.
I trained with Lucky for a three week board and train. The beginning steps were slow, but were the most important part of the entire process.
I did not leave food out for him. I created a routine where I would sit down with him anywhere between 4-5 times each day to offer food while I sat next to him. This was to establish a connection and build trust. I would roll or toss the food to him in the initial days, until he became comfortable enough to take food from my hand.
As soon as Lucky was giving me the green light with this exercise, I began to advance criteria. We worked on exercises that helped him become more comfortable with handling and movement. Raising criteria as Lucky showed me that he was ready for more. We only started to work on external stressors in the environment once the relationship was solid.
I was able to transfer these skills back to the owners through video exercises. The training steps were easy to implement, and gave them the confidence and motivation they needed to continue with the subsequent exercises. They learned that the training was a two way street, he learned to trust and respond to their cues, just as they learned to trust and respond to his cues.
They couldn’t believe that in the first week of being home with him he was actually enjoying his walks, and looking at the world with a fresh perspective.