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Joe’s Better Dog Journey

When I adopted Joe, I had no idea what I would be in for. I naively thought raising him would be exactly like Bubba…easy peasy. Boy, was I wrong.

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From the beginning, it took him much longer to learn a lot of the “basics” that Bubba took to so easily.  Housebreaking him took almost a year! He took forever learning how to use the dog door as well. He chewed through countless things, including my yoga block, my heels, and — brace yourself for this — my cellphone.

But more than the hard-to-train behaviors, my biggest problem with him was the fact that he didn’t take to people well.  Unlike Bubba who will only growl when people come into the house then quiets down once he recognizes them, Joe seemed to not understand the concept of  “friend vs. stranger”.  Joe often growled, and this would be the scary type of growl. So much so that people were afraid that he would attack and pounce. It didn’t help much that he is half Rottweiler.

To be honest, I knew nothing about his breed before I took him. Not that it would have changed my mind, I think, but I was clueless as to what Rott’s were known for. Apparently, they’re very defensive dogs as they are guard dogs. They are often thought of as fighter dogs too, but that’s not necessarily true.

Anyway, the problems with him got so bad that one day, my family had asked me to get rid of him because he was too difficult to deal with. Of course with me, he was the complete opposite.  He was the most loving, sweet, and affectionate little one.  It broke my heart to bits to have to let him go, and so I asked for some time to have him go through obedience training, hoping that maybe this will change the situation.

Enter Better Dog Canine Behavior Center.

One of my aunts had tried their service before and she said it had helped her with her dog, and so I shot the owner, Jojo Isorena, an inquiry via text messaging (take note:  this was around dinner time and yet he took the time to reply immediately and not give me a whole “call me tomorrow” or what not reply. On another note, I resorted to texting because I was crying so much there was no way for me to speak to him over the phone). Anyway, to make a long story short, by the end of my communication with Jojo, I had set an appointment for a behavioral assessment.

In that initial meeting, he explained to me the procedure and process that Better Dog uses in obedience and agility training.  He also assessed Joe’s personality and he explained to me that Joe was a special dog. Unlike most dogs who are pretty well adjusted, Joe is a highly anxious and nervous dog. This is why he appears aggressive. However, his aggression is not borne out of that “fighting” instinct that my family assumed.  Jojo was careful to point out, nonetheless, that like any dog, he still has attack and defend instincts so that would be something to consider still. Also,  being part Rottweiler, he was a guard dog, thus his very defensive and protective nature, especially towards me and the house.  Nonetheless, through his assessment of Joe, he gave me a better picture of the total personality of my dog, considering both his breed and his individual temperament. After that session, Jojo asked me and Joe to come for a second session for a lecture about understanding dog behavior and language. Through this session, I began to understand my Joe in a whole new way. We then proceeded to our clicker training and command training. Boy, it was hard. Jojo and his assistant, Joe (yes, he was named Joe too!), did not do the training themselves. Rather, they would let me do it under their guidance because they said it would be useless for them to be the one to do it and me just standby and watch because it should be me Joe (the dog!) responds to.

It has been many months since I began my program with Better Dog. There have been good times, and not so good times. We had really awesome sessions, and some that were terrible that it felt like it was a waste of time because Joe was just unresponsive. However, Jojo would always tell me to not lose hope and to just keep at it.

One of the most difficult things to teach Joe was the command “down”. This is because it takes him into a submissive and vulnerable position, and given the anxious and nervous dog that he is, it is frightening for him.  However, after many months, he is now able to do it on command, and can stay there for several counts :)

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Joe practicing his sits, downs, and stays. And yes, even if he really wants that ball, when I say leave it, he will not reach for it until I say get it! :)

To this day, Joe still struggles with some issues, such as when people come to the house. However, unlike before when he would go wild and really growl and scratch the doors/screens just to defend his space, he now goes into the room willingly and does not have to be leashed for him to stay put and calm down. He also stopped taking the homeopathic anti-anxiety medication that I was giving him (I shall write about that next). Now, he can sit quietly and wait, and recognizes that he only needs to defend his turf and not the entire house, that it’s okay for people to be around. Also, even if he really wants to lunge at the doors and growl away the people he sees, he can walk away from them and come to me on my command. Big, big change, I tell you! Sure, there are still areas of improvement, but he definitely is a different and much better dog than when we started out in January.  However, more than just the change in behavior that I see in Joe, I see that he is a much happier dog now, and that means a lot. The support that the school gave me and Joe is such a great gift and I will always be grateful to them for being part of Joe’s Better Dog Journey.  :)

 

  • #1
    Posted by Kat on September 19th, 2013 at 9:49 am

    awesome! i’m extremely happy for you and joe! :)

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