We had Kaslo for a only a few months before our daughter was born when our second Jack (his littermate) was hit by a car. He then became a very anxious dog. A few months after our daughter was born, we decided to get a companion for him, with the hopes to ease his anxiety. We got Skoki from the same breeder we got Kaslo from. It wasn’t long after that when we invited some friends over, and after an incident with one of their young children, he became terrified of “little humans.” In addition, Skoki was already quite territorial, particularly around food. And, as hunters, our dogs would bark at the rabbits and birds outside our house(and any that were on TV). At that time, we were also planning on expanding our family with a second child. Wiith a growing family and two “barky", anxious and skittish dogs, we became increasingly worried that we would have to consider life without dog(s) if we couldn’t find a way to coexist. Our vet recommended Cindy.
As soon as I got off the phone with Cindy, I was relieved and knew we would be in good hands. Because there were no shortage of issues between Kaslo, Skoki and the human clan, we needed training! We started learning where we were enabling their behaviour and where we were inconsistent in what how we were dealing with the dogs. After some sessions with Cindy, we started adjusting our behaviour. We prioritized the issues we wanted to work on with the dogs. We started by Skoki’s fear of children and on his food aggression while doing general training with Kaslo. Then, we worked on controlling boh of their “hunter instincts.” This helped reducing the barking both in the house and on walks.
Cindy was a wealth of information, creative in her techniques (she bought a battery operated rabbit to place outside our house so we could practice with the dogs), and worked the dogs individually and together. After approximately 9 months of working with Cindy, we were at a point where we had seen significant improvement in our dogs’ behaviour and felt equipped to continue working with the dogs on our own.
Fast forward about 3 years… we now have a 16 month old and our daughter is now 4 years old. I still keep in touch with Cindy, though mostly to give her updates on our ongoing progress. We haven’t really stopped training the dogs. They require constant work and I think they are smarter than me at times. Without Cindy, I’m not sure my family would be a one with 2 parents, 2 children and 2 dogs. I think something would have given. But, here we are 3 years later, coexisting and having fun most of the time) together.
I texted Cindy today to show her a video of my 16 month old feeding, dancing and throwing food to the dogs the night before. The only ones who misbehaved that day were the children and they didn't take happily to me telling them to stop throwing the dog food around. Skoki, who normally would have been going nuts with hands in his food bowl, was calm and collected. I then told I took the dogs for a walk, but since it has been -30 out the past 2 days, walks have been short. I let her know that I used some of her training exercises to tired them out and only rewarded them with big scratches behind their ears and a lot of petting. I didn’t give them any food rewards. That mental stimulation worked and they have been calm all evening.
Here are some pictures from the past few months. As you can see, our dogs are a huge part of our family. Victoria recently told me that Skoki is her favourite because he licks her. Only a couple of years ago, I was worried he would bite her.
Thank you for all your help, Cindy!