Testimonial 39 - Tara

beagle phobic professional handling and everyd

I adopted my Beagle mix, Tara, when she was about 2 years old. She was a bag of bones and skittish, but also sweet and affectionate.  For the first eight months or so, she seemed to adapt well to her new surroundings - she put on weight, and her coat turned glossy.

But then things changed. Tara refused to go out with the walker, and even lunged at her a couple of times when she tried to put on the lead. Our own walks shortened dramatically, it became very difficult to coax her down to the end of the block. Around the same time, Tara’s barking at strangers increased, particularly men. I was terribly worried that Tara would become overly aggressive, even bite someone.

I began researching the issue and that’s how I found Mary Huntsberry. I liked how she has worked with animals for more than a decade, and in a variety of arenas.  More importantly, she tries to understand why an animal is acting a particular way, and uses positive methods to change that behavior.

We spent more than two hours in our first session as Mary took detailed notes of Tara’s behavior, all the while carefully watching my dog’s movements and reactions. Mary explained how fear was driving Tara’s behavior. She drew up a regimen of positive reinforcement, which we began practicing that night, along with techniques and tips to help correct Tara’s behavior. Mary made it clear Tara’s case was severe and it was going to take time, effort, and patience to see real results. I left that night feeling reassured that we were in good hands.

The first few weeks were sometimes frustrating, and there were times I felt we had regressed. But about a month later, I started seeing clear and consistent improvement. My dog-Mama’s heart swelled with pride. People who hadn’t seen Tara for a while commented on how much she’d changed - she seemed more outgoing and happy.

Along the way, Mary encouraged I keep in touch to let her know about Tara’s progress, and she would offer some modifications to our training exercises. I always felt Mary cared about how Tara was doing and had a stake in seeing her behavior improve.

We had a follow-up session at my home, which was very beneficial. Tara and I are soon to begin the Professional Handling for Everyday Obedience course.

We have come a long way in a short while.  We still have work to do, but it has been a wonderful growing experience for me and my pup, thanks to Mary.

Jackie N. from Washington, DC


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