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Our 9 month old boxer/shepherd mix, Josephine, used to be a model citizen until she turned about 5 months old. At that point she started showing aggression toward other dogs when on leash and discomfort around strangers. She would lunge and bark with her hackles up whenever another dog came into view and would bark with her hackles up at anyone who would come to our door or enter our house.

It was embarrassing and worrisome. I had always envisioned our dog as a trustworthy companion who could join us on family outings but instead, she often had to be left home in her crate because of her agressive behavior. We would also have to make sure she was the only dog at the local sports field where we would excercise her and would often have to leave the field minutes after arriving because another dog would show up. We live in a suburban area with lots of kids and other dogs and this arrangement was not working.

Our vet recommended Shawn and he took Joey for the weekend so that she could hang out with the other dogs. It turns out she loves other dogs and was confused about her role in our family (pack) and thought that her aggression was needed and wanted by us.

When we picked Joey up Shawn sat us and her down and explained his approach. To be honest, I was a little concerned that with strict rules, Joey would be unhappy living in our house (since before, she was basically the princess) and that other people would think I was being mean to my dog if I had to correct her in public. But I decided to go with it. After the first day home she no longer jumped on the furniture or beds. After a couple days she was walking nicely on the leash at my side. And she is just as happy and goofy as before. She still has work to do when other dogs approach but the reacion is very much subdued and consists mainly of raised hair on her back and she tries to get a good look at the other dog. We have also been working on staying on her blanket when someone is at the door and that has worked really well.

We aren’t done yet but at least there is hope she is getting it. And if I feel like she isn’t progressing fast enough or that I’m doing something wrong, I can just call Shawn and he is quick to return my call. I also like that when we do need to board her, she isn’t locked in a kennel but is socializing with other dogs the whole time. It has been two weeks since we first brought Jo to Shawn and like I said, it is a work in progress but at least there is progress and that is a good thing.

Fulwiler October 17, 2014