Reactivity

Mixed Breed – Severe Reactivity

Lulu was a 4 year old mixed breed female who had been living with her owner for about 8 months when I started working with her. Lulu was a stray dog who had a rough and tough attitude – one that was similar to “no one is going to hurt me! I’m not going to let you get that close to me!!” If you got close she started barking, growling, snarling, etc to give off every distancing behavior she knew. If you got closer, she snapped and would try to bite you. This was not acceptable to her owner. She needed Lulu to be calm and get along with people who came to visit at her home as well as be able to take Lulu to her friends’ homes when she visited them. She also wanted to be able to take Lulu to work with her. Lulu was making it difficult to take her anywhere!

One thing that Lulu’s person noticed was that if Lulu knew you she wouldn’t be stressed the second time she met you. Unfortunately, the first time she met you she was usually so stressed out that she didn’t remember meeting you! We discovered that if Lulu wore her Thundershirt when she met new people, she remembered them the second time she saw them! Why did this work? Well, when she wore the Thundershirt, it lowered her stress levels enough that she could think and then remember what happened.  This was a huge breakthrough for Lulu because she was calm during the second meeting and would even take treats from the person…even if the person was a man (which is a whole other issue that we were addressing)!

I think the most important thing that the Thundershirt did for this handler-dog team was give them freedom. They learned that they could go out in public without worrying about Lulu being a reactive dog. They learned that visitors could come over to the house without Lulu being reactive. They learned that they could have fun and live their life together! And, Lulu could go to work with her owner!

I saw Lulu’s owner recently and she said, “Who knew what a wonderful dog was lurking inside of Lulu?! Now everyone knows and it is great that everyone who meets Lulu can see what I saw when I first met her!”

The Thundershirt alone doesn’t make this transformation. It is one tool that allows the transformation to occur.  Lulu wouldn’t have been able to make this transformation without the Thundershirt because Lulu’s stress levels wouldn’t have been lowered enough to accept treats from strangers. Lulu wouldn’t have been comfortable to travel to new places and explore lots of new things. But… without an owner committed to do those things too, the transformation wouldn’t be complete.  In this case the Thundershirt was a critical part of Lulu’s rehabilitation – thank you!!  It really is wonderful to have a drug-free alternative to make these changes.

Patricia Tirrell, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
Tellington TTouch® Practitioner in Training
Delta Society Team Evaluator
The Confident Dog
Durham, NC
919-824-1624
blog.confident-dog.com
www.confident-dog.com

Pit Bull – Leash Training, Reactivity

Pit Bull – Leash Training, Reactivity

Onxy’s story isn’t any different from most dogs at any shelter in the US.  She found her way to the shelter, was adopted.  She became too much dog for the family she was with so she was returned to the shelter.  I started working with Onyx after she had been returned to the shelter.  I was asked to work with her because she was “difficult to walk.”  That was an understatement!  The first few times I worked with Onyx I think we only “walked” about 50 feet outside the shelter before we went back inside.  That took us about 30 minutes.  After that I started bringing a Thundershirt with me.

The first time I put the Thundershirt on Onyx was very interesting! It took me a few minutes to adjust the Thundershirt, but once I got it on her she was a changed dog.  After I got the Thundershirt on her she stopped mouthing me and jumping like a kangaroo!  I wouldn’t say she was calm or that she had resigned herself to the situation, it was more like she felt a certain peace that she had never known before.  Perhaps it goes back to the pressure points and the neural pathways sending messages to her brain.  Whatever it was, it sure made my job of putting her harness on her a thousand times easier.

Walking her out of the kennel with the Thundershirt on was a whole new experience too.  Prior to that day she was reactive to the other dogs in their runs, but with the Thundershirt on she could walk past their runs without barking/lunging at them.  It was quite the transformation!

We went on our first real walk that day.  We were able to complete the whole trail – what a pleasant surprise!  When we returned to the shelter she was still calm and didn’t bark/lunge at the dogs as she went back to her kennel.

Over the coming weeks I was able to work with her a couple times a week.  I always used the Thundershirt when I worked with Onyx.  I was able to really improve her leash walking and began to actually train her.  I even started training her in very basic agility.

Shelter environments are stressful and can be challenging on many different levels.  I have used the Thundershirt on many dogs, like Onxy, who are pullers and can’t focus on lead.  I have found that simply adding the Thundershirt is often enough to help them settle and find their focus on the walk.

Patricia Tirrell, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
Tellington TTouch® Practitioner in Training
Delta Society Team Evaluator
The Confident Dog
Durham, NC
919-824-1624
blog.confident-dog.com
www.confident-dog.com

Thundershirts in a Shelter

Thundershirts in a Shelter

For the past couple years I have volunteered at my local shelter providing Tellington TTouch® to dogs in need.

I have found the Thundershirts to be an invaluable tool.

Some of the many situations where I’ve used the Thundershirt:

  • Jack Russell Terrier who was opposed to being touched and hyperactive.  Using the Thundershirt he was able to calm down long enough to learn that being touched can be a good thing.  Later the dog got loose and ran into the hills around the shelter.  He was quickly caught and able to be handled without protest. 
  • Dog Reactive Dog.  I used a Thundershirt on a dog that did not appreciate the site of other dogs.  During our session a volunteer walked past our enclosure with another dog on a lead.  Both dogs got nose to nose with the fence between them and the only reaction from the dog I was working with was he cried when the other dog and the volunteer continued their walk.
  • An Australian Shepherd failed the social handling portion of his behavior test because he would cry out if anyone touched him beyond his face.  Tossing treats on the floor I distracted him and quickly put him in a Thundershirt.  The Thundershirt gave him the confidence to allow me to very slowly and very lightly touch him with the back of my hand.  By the end of our session he allowed me to touch him with normal pressure all over his body without crying.  When I took the shirt off he would cry when touched.  The next day I worked with him and he was a totally different dog.  Now he allowed substantial touching all over his body.
  • A year old lab puppy that had suffered brain damage from being hit by a car circled wildly to the left.  Using a Thundershirt and a Tellington TTouch® wand and a specific leash configuration she was able to concentrate enough to walk straight.  The more and more we practices using these techniques the better she is able to walk.
  • A young Puggle was recently abandoned in a cardboard box and found himself at the shelter.  Overcrowding dictates that small dogs will have multiple kennel mates.  As this little dog was meeting his 3 new kennel mates he was having a rough go of it.  The bigger two dogs were too enthusiastic about exploring him and he would growl at them.  This doesn’t go over well in a shelter setting and I immediately put him in a Thundershirt and did a short TTouch session.  Within minutes all four dogs were off and paying.  The Thundershirt gave him the courage to withstand the inquisition from the 2 bigger dogs and get on to the playing.
  • The Thundershirts are used with dogs that have not yet passed their behavior testing.  Shelters are scary in the best of circumstances.  I’ve found that by using the Thundershirts and Tellington TTouch® it helps these dogs settle into the routine, feel safe and more confident so they are more apt to be able to pass their behavior test and move along to adoptions.

Linda Troup
Tellington TTouch CAPiT
TouchNpaws
www.TouchNpaws.com
www.TouchNpaws.blogspot.com