I’m Linda. My husband is Willie. And this is Buster……
Buster is a little Heinz 57 dog who came to us in May of 2016 with BIG problems.
We adopted him from UPAWS after his having had several different homes in his short four years. He had an “aggressive” label; and they weren’t kidding. Having had a “sassy” Jack Russell for 10 years, I felt I could probably deal with Buster’s temperament. First and foremost, Buster did not want to be touched. Any purposeful hand movement in his direction illicited snaps and snarls. After a month, I was ready to call uncle on this project. I was ready to surrender him to UPAWS. But, Buster was so smart in other areas. He whistle trained in 2 days. He follows directions better than any dog I have ever owned. He devotedly follows me everywhere and happily does anything I am doing. But I could not pet or touch him. Then he began to get aggressive towards my husband, Willie, if he would walk towards me; this behavior could not be tolerated or lived with.
Earlier our vet had suggested Sue Kapla, Animal Behaviorist, as being potentially able to help us. So we decided to give Buster a final chance before giving up on him. We called Sue.
After a thorough initial phone interview and a one-on-one visit, we learned the techniques of clicker training and behavioral reconditioning. We learned that a dog will only learn and do at his speed, mini baby steps are necessary to keep trust and learning going and all this takes time and patience. Our work began with a HUGE wrench thrown in however: Buster tested positive for heartworm disease. So at the same time we began reconditioning, he also started heartworm treatment. Thanks to Sue Kapla, with her teaching and support, in spite of the rigors of heartworm treatment, Buster now, four months later, lets us pet him. I pick things off of his fur and pick him up. He sits on my lap when I knit. He no longer reacts to Willie coming near me. He enjoys people. We still have to go at Buster’s speed and willingness to engage; but, he is very excited about clicker training and this seems to give him confidence in himself. Some of the clicker training is aimed at him being touched. Other clicker training is just fun and getting him to be a stable member of the family. He is becoming a great dog. I’m so glad we didn’t surrender him and sought help instead.
We will never know what happened to Buster to make him so afraid but he is getting better using the knowledge we gained from Sue Kapla. Thank you, Sue!