We adopted Sam, a Doberman Pinscher, when he was a little over a year old. He seemed very sweet-natured and to like everyone at first. Since we both work full time, we put him in a doggie daycare several days a week. We also participated in obedience classes with him at the daycare facility for a little over a year. After several months, we noticed he was developing aggressive tendencies. He growled at our nephew once, snapped at a neighbor who was in our home for dinner, growled and snapped at a good friend who came home with me after a shopping trip, and pinned down a friend’s dog when visiting their home. There were other random incidences when he would growl and lunge at a stranger, seemingly out of the blue. The aggression seemed to be escalating. I was getting to the point of being afraid to have friends or family visit us. The last straw was when I took him to the vet to have a hygroma on his elbow examined, and we had to put a muzzle on him. It was the most aggressive display I had seen from him, and enough for me to know we had to address this issue before something more serious occurred. Our choices were to fix the problem or return him to the Doberman rescue, as we were not willing to live with a potentially dangerous dog. I searched the internet for dog trainers specializing in aggressive dogs, and by the grace of God we found Rick. I was so impressed when Rick called me in response to my initial email query, and spent an hour on the phone answering my questions and explaining his training approach. I was also happy to hear that Rick isn’t tied to a specific methodology or device, but tailors the training to the individual dog to develop good behavior without breaking the dog’s spirit.
Not surprisingly, Sam acted like he wanted to attack Rick on the first evaluation visit in our home. But Rick’s calm and confident demeanor quickly quieted Sam down. By our second training session, Sam was completely relaxed, and at one point laying on the ground at Rick’s feet. Rick had Sam walking beside us off leash, and running half the length of Cottonwood Creek Park straight to us. That was something we never imagined would be possible! When we first got Sam, he pulled so hard on the lead that I had to hang on with both hands, especially when we encountered rabbits or deer. We had tried every halter, collar, and gadget we could find to get him to walk nicely beside us. After our second session, Sam was walking beside us with no pressure on the lead whatsoever. If fact, we were able to take our hand completely off the lead and he stayed right with us! Rick has helped us better understand dog behavior, and is patiently teaching us to train Sam. We have seen continued improvement in Sam’s behavior. We are in the middle of our training program and have been able to have friends over for dinner without incident. Recently, as a test, Rick and my friend that Sam had snapped at came to our home and Sam was completely under control. No barking, growling, or aggression at all. Rick is very open to addressing new concerns as they come up. He even showed us how to teach Sam to walk on the treadmill for those days when the weather is too bad to be outside. We still have work to do, but we’re starting to see the potential Sam has to be a great dog and are looking forward to getting there with Rick’s guidance.