This week I had to say goodbye to 2 very special dogs, Bentley and Buddha, as they move across the country to start a new chapter in their lives! I have had to say goodbye to many dogs, and they all really hurt. But this one hurt me extra, because I really had to work hard so Bentley and Buddha would learn to trust me, and because of that we have a very special bond. We have a million memories that we have made together over the almost 3 years that I've walked them, but I wanted to talk about how we built our relationship - and how integral they were in teaching me about consent based training, and making me the dog walker I am today.
I saw this and was immediately interested. Of course, I love a challenge - but I had recently completed the Dog*Tec course to become a certified dog walker, and thus had been equipped with the power of knowledge on how to approach fearful dogs. I told her I would love to meet them, and bring tons of food!
Also LOL I am a doritos girl through and through, I love what I love.
What I knew about dealing with fearful dogs:
That being said, I had never really worked with fearful dogs - and this was a brand new experience and I didn't want to let Bentley and Buddha down.
I met with Bentley and Buddha (and their humans) a few times. While there both their parents and myself fed the pups. I did the famous "treat & retreat" method - and their parents encouraged them letting them know they were safe! I was even able to go on a walk with them, but their parents had to help me getting them leashed and ready. After a few sessions like this, I thought we could try a real deal walk!
I got a key, and one day I went to pick up B&B - we were expecting Bentley to be scared, but Buddha bean was REALLY scared. I entered, and took down the baby gate & she was so scared she had a little poopie come out. Bentley was willing to take treats, but Buddha absolutely would not. Because Buddha was so scared, Bentley, although curious, wasn't trusting enough to let me near him. So I left a goodbye present of a bunch of treats, and left them. I said OK I hear you! Bye!
Their parents, being the amazing people they are, were willing to set up a few more sessions where I came by with them present. Here we did more treat/retreat & eventually I could even leash them up!
It took time, patience, and trust. Not just teaching Bentley and Buddha to trust me, but having trust in the process. Believing in the power of positive reinforcement. But we got there! And had almost 3 years filled with fun walks, and so much love. I am going to miss them so much.
Um also, PS - what says "i trust you" more than letting me put feather BOAs and heart shaped sun glasses on them?