Testimonial 5 - Sunny

pit bull aggression on leash leash reactivity leash aggression

Mary helped us to help our new addition to, well, behave! We adopted our dog after losing our beloved pit bull to lymphoma. As experienced bully owners, we did not hesitate to rescue another. In comes Sunny. She was fun loving, so sweet, and came into our house with much bravado and bossiness. She tried to communicate with us by grabbing our shoes, pants, feet and hands and barking in our faces. She had no idea that she was being too rough with the cat (despite his squeals, she just thought they were both having a ball) and found great joy in playing tug of war with the leash when we took her outside. Needless to say, this made walks and even simple potty breaks a challenge. Finally, while she loves to play with other dogs off-leash, with the leash on, her frustration at not being able to freely go see the other dog would get the best of her, and embarrass us. Our neighbors probably thought we adopted a monster!

Our previous dog was only very mildly leash reactive so we were in new territory. Since our neighborhood is full of dogs, we knew we needed to fix it fast. We first looked into trainers, all of which said they used a “balanced approach”, and we soon came to learn that meant outdated tactics, slip leads and prong collars. Desperate, we tried it briefly. It was a disaster! We just didn’t feel good about using the slip lead, and Sunny’s behavior got worse. It was time to call in reinforcements and rediscover that funny, sweet dog we first fell in love with. 

A quick Google search for local animal behaviorists brought us to Mary. We got more out of one evening with Mary than we would have gotten out of months of training. She reminded us why we felt unease at the local training methods, and showed us alternatives that work to help the dog learn to relax and behave well in a human world. Our bond with Sunny has grown as she has learned to trust us and look to us for guidance. While we are still working on things, she tries hard and is making great progress. Her behavior change is amazing – friends told us she’s like a new dog after just a month! Her behavior continues to improve and the best part is, we can now take her for walks without anxiety. Recruiting Mary’s help was definitely worth the investment as we now get lots of Sunny’s famous pit bull ‘hugs’. 

Mary C. from Columbia, MD


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