From Fearful to Full of Confidence
Denali came to us at 9 months old with some severe fear issues. If put out in the backyard with other dogs, she would go into a blind panic and try to flee or escape. This was a really sad thing to see, especially for a puppy with her whole life ahead of her. A Doberman should be confident and happy everywhere they go, and we set a goal to get Denali to that point.
Fortunately, Denali had fantastic food and toy drive. This allowed us to teach her obedience commands very quickly, and we used this obedience to build her confidence. Instead of her having to deal with dogs trying to play with her, I would heel her around the yard with two neutral dogs out who ignored her completely. This allowed her to gradually get more comfortable, and frequent rewards for nice heeling built a positive correlation.
Pretty quickly Denali started to be curious about dogs, and started to play with other boarding dogs. She actually got so rambunctious playing that we had to help her learn appropriate play skills with dogs smaller than her. Having made great strides on home turf, we then took things on the road.
When Denali first went off property, she reverted back to her old ways. This wasn’t a surprise, and is one of the biggest reasons that we make frequent field trips with board and train dogs. The obedience and reinforcement history allowed us to quickly push through her issues, and soon she was reliably performing her commands in public. We also started to work her around her brother, another Doberman, to make sure she would listen with him around.
Denali is a classic case where having structure and rules gave a dog confidence and comfort. It also allowed us to channel her energy into healthier “jobs” than the ones she had created for herself. Now she is thriving with her owners and her Doberman brother. We are so happy that we got to help her live a happier life.