Testimonial 54 - Sadie
Sadie, Belgian Malinois, adopted from breed rescue –
When we came to Mary four months ago, we were quite despondent. Our dog had just attacked and nearly killed our neighbor’s small dog and we were at the absolute end of our rope.
Before finding Mary we had consulted with 3 other trainers, taken a reactive dog class and tried all the techniques I had known from owning the breed before. Our dog had dragged me over the ground, injuring me twice in trying to get at other dogs. We had begun medication with her but after 6 months, still hadn’t noticed much of an improvement in her reactivity. The dog that was to be my running companion had become a virtual prisoner in our home. Only my husband had the strength to walk her without being pulled down if they encountered another dog. We were stuck with a dog that we loved but couldn’t enjoy. She was not leading the best life we had hoped for her after adopting her and we were all unhappy.
I’m so grateful to Mary for her guidance and expertise. She built upon the good things we had been doing and showed us how to make it more effective. She explained that rather than being a bully, Sadie was terrified of other dogs. This changed my perspective of her behavior completely. She recommended an amazing head collar that worked much more effectively for keeping her under control on leash. She also recommended interactive toys that helped reduce Sadie’s anxiety, and spent time talking with our vet and the daycare where we had been taking her.
At first we had to change so much with her, it seemed overwhelming. Of all the things we put into place, it was the new handling technique and equipment that allowed us to gently control and redirect her when we encountered another dog. The day I could take Sadie out and feel confident that she wasn’t always on alert was such a relief.
She has been going strength to strength since then - we have long walks everyday, logging up to 6 miles. She no longer lunges and tries to attack other dogs. She has learned to focus on her handler to get treats and seems to be confident that she is being protected. This is all part of her slowly learning that seeing other dogs means lots of treats and praise not to lash out in terror.
Sadie has been a challenging dog, but Mary’s guidance and insight have helped us so much. She recommended the tools and techniques that worked for all of us. We achieved this as we had hoped – without a shock collar (which was suggested to us by other trainers) but rather with lots of praise, treats, training and supportive medication from our vet.
I highly recommend to anyone who has a problem dog to call Mary and set up an appointment. For us it was the first step into having the family companion we had wanted. We continue to work with her, it will be an ongoing process, but Mary Huntsberry has helped us with a plan that works.
Danielle Probst Rich from Greenbelt, MD