I see this concern often actually - it's much more common in today's age than you might think, especially with our fast-paced lifestyles and societal pressures. Dogs can be even more sensitive to these pressures than some people - and plenty of us struggle with it as well! Luckily, with Angelica's dedication (and a little guidance from me), Langston was able to become much more comfortable out in public (though they were still working through some reactive moments with other dogs in certain situations).
Fast forward almost a year to July 2017. I was so excited to receive an update from Angelica about Langston's progress. Though they had some changes in their lives recently, Angelica and Langston were happier than ever in their relationship. She had introduced him to the sport of dock-diving and it turns out they both LOVED it, and Langston thrived - he was more confident and much less reactive with the other dogs! Here's what Angelica had to share...
"I wanted to let you know about a few things that happened at Langston's dock diving event this past weekend. They show the great amount of progression he's made since you really taught me about the relationship between the dog and his owner.
First of all, Langston did very well! He made it into finals for his division and made 4th place. He also beat his recorded personal best of 9'1" by jumping 18'11"! The judge noted that in all of his time doing dock diving he has never seen a dog more than double his personal best within one month. The reason for this wicked improvement is because I discovered that racing him makes him fly! I realized if I combined his obsession with those Kong rubber balls with his preference to do things with me (rather than for me), that if I start at the end of the dock and run down it, that pup will jump as far as he needs to to get that ball from me before I do. Happily, this method is - while not very common - not against the rules and it makes Langston jump like a maniac!
Second, the less pleasant news -- Langston made that big jump after going through an incredibly traumatic incident with another dog, Bleu. Bleu is my friend's dog and after we very gradually introduced them to each other, they became friends -- they've played together, run around together, slept in the same bed, etc. My friend brought Bleu to the event to help cheer Langston on but I think the intensity of the event made Bleu snap and she went after Langston just about 3 or 4 dogs before his turn. She latched on and would not let go. The entire event stopped and we had vet techs, dog trainers, etc. trying every method they knew to get her off of him. For a brief second I really thought I was watching my beloved dog die. Thankfully a judge came with ice water and squirted it right into her eyes (a method that I will keep at heart for the rest of my life) and she let go. I have a little 5x5 tent for Langston instead of a crate (since he hates being crated). He rarely uses it since I usually just tether him to the fence while we hang out in our little spot, but I like having it there for him as his "just in case" place. In this case, I grabbed him and shoved him into the tent so that it was just me and him so that it wasn't overwhelming with the crowd staring at us as I checked him over for punctures. Luckily no punctures at all (just some swelling now that it's a few days later) and then I had some privacy to cry some relief over him being alive and well and tell him how much I loved him. The event holders moved Langston down the roster to give him some time to recover. And then he marched up the dock and jumped 18'11"! He shook off the traumatic event with Bleu like a boss! Totally unfazed. Even as I recount all of this writing it to you I see more now how in tune with my dog I've gotten (even knowing that he needs a tent, not a crate!) -- all thanks to your help!
Third, pictures from the event came out and there's a picture of me and Langston hanging out while we wait for a practice run...
When I looked at it I realized how relaxed we both are -- I have Langston on a short leash due to his close proximity to all the other dogs, but otherwise we are comfortable and chill! Langston's not even looking at me and has that doofy smile on his face. I would say that with good training and having discovered this sport for Langston to get all of his energy out while gaining confidence and exposure to other dogs, I have found the perfect combination for his continued improvement! If you ever meet another dog like Langston (high energy, athletic, velcro dog with anxiety and security issues), it wouldn't hurt to mention this combination! Thank you - you honestly have no idea how much of a guiding light you've been in my process to understanding dogs."
Thank YOU, Angelica, for giving me the opportunity to help you and Langston! It's stories like these that inspire me day in and day out. I am honored to share my passion with you (and all the others who want to help their dogs bring out their best selves) - you guys are superstars!!
Maria Huntoon, CBCC-KA