Batty arrived at his new home recently. His owner and I have been in contact since late November after she had seen Batty’s picture and biography on the shelter’s website. She asked me to accompany her to the shelter so I could observe and be introduced to Batty. When I entered the room where Batty's was waiting for us, I observed that he had borderline fearful/aggressive tendencies. I was concerned, Batty’s behavior is a lot to handle and will be a challenge to correct. Batty’s a medium sized Jack Russell/Australian cattle dog and can be a strong dog, physically and mentally.
Batty’s new owner spent 70 hours at the shelter giving Batty time to get to know her, she was very dedicated and the connection between her and Batty was easy to see. We had a long discussion about the challenges that would come with a dog like Batty. I mentioned that my biggest fear was that Batty would be able to pull her down and I didn’t want her to be hurt. I also said that I think behavior training would change Batty, but it would be a slow and long process.
At a workshop I attended for dog behavior training by Cesar Millan we were talking about the way people and dogs interact. Cesar commented "you don't get the dog you want, you get the dog you need". For whatever reason, Batty's owner had bonded with Batty. When I watched her and Batty, I could see the love. The decision of if Batty was not up to me, it was up to her. And she wanted Batty in her life.
The first week of March, Batty was brought to his new home. His owner and I had set up an appointment for work to begin as soon as possible. I arrived at his home and went up to the room where he was in a crate. He immediately started barking aggressively, I did not look at him nor did I acknowledge his behavior. I sat with his owner and we chatted about how things were going since his arrival the day before. We discussed the plans I had for working with Batty and Batty will also be walking with other walkers/trainers. As we spoke, Batty calmed and settled down in his crate. I could see Batty, I did not make eye contact nor any movement that would give him any reason to become anxious or fearful. I slowly lowered myself to the floor and Batty began to growl, then calmed. I moved slowly over toward his crate and each time he reacted, I stopped and waited for him to calm himself. After about 45 minutes, I was sitting by his crate and he was calm and watching me. I asked permission to open his crate and see what he would do. His owner agreed and the door was unlatched. I had the door just resting against the crate. Batty stood up and nosed the door open.
I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive. I had never touched Batty. His body language gave me no indication he was fearful or aggressive. I sat beside the crate waiting. Batty came out, crawled up on my lap and began to lick my face! He sniffed around, returned to me and again licked me. I spoke with him, telling him he was a good boy and just watched him as he moved around the room. He checked out his toys, went for a drink of a water and came back and sat beside me. I reached over and began to gently pet his back, speaking gently and praising him for good behavior. Batty dropped to the floor and gave me his belly. There was no greater reward for me than that. By giving his belly, he was accepting my touch and affection.
This was a great start, I know progress with Batty will come as long as I am patient, calm and lead him in the direction that will allow Batty to live a balanced life.
I will be updating Batty's progress on this website and sharing through my Facebook Page. I am excited to work with Batty. He will be a challenge - that kind of challenge that will grow me as his trainer/walker and as a person. Every dog deserves a chance to be the dog they were intended to be.