I called Well Mannered Dog Training Charleston out of desperation following an incident where my Lab/Chow mix, Winston, bit my parents’ neighbor. Winston had a long history of aggression towards other animals, specifically other dogs, but had never bitten anyone. For years I felt anxious whenever I walked Winston and my other dog, Jay, fearing that Winston would “snap” and attack someone else’s dog. Walks had become unbearable, but I managed Winston with a “Gentle Leader” and avoided other dogs at all costs. Walks would involve cutting through my neighbor’s yards or walking in the opposite direction if another dog was approaching.
Taking Winston to my parents’ house was a nightmare due to their three dogs and four cats. Winston had “free roam” in their yard and often got himself into trouble. Winston attacked my mom’s Golden Retriever once, drawing blood. On another occasion, he attacked my mother’s Siamese cat, requiring major surgery. The other animals were always put up when Winston and I went to town, as avoidance was the way we dealt with his aggression. However, biting my parents’ neighbor was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
I was hysterical for days, crying and wondering what to do with my dog. At home Winston was gentle and loving; however, he was uncontrollable outside of my home. Many friends and family members recommended that I either find Winston a new home or put him down. I was not willing to find Winston a new home knowing that he was aggressive towards other animals and potentially people. I was completely devastated at the thought of euthanizing my loyal dog. I called different dog trainers in the Charleston area to get their prices and opinions. Two of them took days getting back to me (meanwhile, I was still hysterically crying and worrying about my dog…). The trainers that I spoke with repeatedly told me that they could not guarantee that Winston could be rehabilitated.
When I called Well Mannered Dog Training, I immediately reached a human being who could answer my questions. Within minutes, I had an appointment with Allison for later that week. Allison came to my house, listened to my concerns, and, while making no promises, reassured me that she had worked with dogs much more aggressive than Winston. Winston was allowed out of his crate to say hello and immediately showered Allison with kisses. I knew that dog training was going to be expensive and time consuming, but felt that was Winston’s last option. I was willing to make that sacrifice for my dog.
Allison was amazingly patient and accommodating to Winston and me. She first addressed my anxiety and the confusion it caused Winston. Winston was never treated as a “bad dog”, just simply a confused, over-protective dog. Allison helped me to stop thinking of my dog as a monster, and within weeks, the whole atmosphere of my house changed. Walks became enjoyable as Winston received treats whenever we saw other dogs. I began to trust him again, slowly but surely, after weeks without incident. Winston still reacted aggressively when another dog was off-leash, but his overall demeanor was much calmer. Whereas I always thought Winston was stupid, he thrived with training and proved to be a quick learner. Winston truly enjoyed training and I made an effort to work with him daily.
After Winston mastered basic commands, we introduced him to Allison’s dog. His aggression/anxiety decreased during the hour we spent with Allison’s dog. A few weeks later, a friend brought her dog over. Winston continued to make improvements, even allowing a friend’s dog to come in “his” house and smell him. My last session with Allison was spent at the dog park- a miracle in and of itself! Winston had a muzzle on, but cheerfully walked into the dog park and even allowed a few other dogs to sniff his butt. I could not have been happier with his progress.
Winston continues to make improvements. I have taken him to my parents’ house on several occasions without incident. Walks are significantly less stressful for both Winston and me. My family and friends have been amazed at the progress that Winston’s made- my mom even brags about us now! We are going to continue going to group classes and working on the commands that Allison taught us. I cannot thank Allison and Well Mannered Dog Training enough for saving Winston’s life. I am truly thankful for Allison’s patience, expertise, and belief in Winston.
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