Our dog Darcy, is an 8-year-old purebred mutt and a loving member of our family. However, he wasn’t so loving with people outside the family. At one of our sons’ suggestions, we decided to try one more attempt at reshaping Darcy’s behavior. Through my internet research, I found Michael. His background as a behavioral trainer with experience in working with aggressive dogs cemented my decision to seek his help in working with Darcy.One of Darcy’s biggest problems was his initial reaction to strangers — particularly those unfortunate enough to ring the doorbell.
On Michael’s first visit, Darcy demonstrated his distrust of visitors. Starting with our first visit, Michael was able to work with me to help Darcy make choices to calm himself down. On Michael’s last visit, he saw “a much different dog – almost like a puppy.” (Now, if he could only take years off the owners too!)
The biggest value for Darcy was learning that he could make choices – choices to calm himself down and not to continue to ramp up in excitement and aggression. The biggest value for me was that Michael gave me a perspective that I couldn’t see for myself; specifically, an outside view of how I was unintentionally reinforcing Darcy’s fear with my body language. The resources that Michael recommended saved me hours and hours of research — from great books to wonderful DVDs that really helped me see the world from Darcy’s perspective. Michael also taught me how to redirect Darcy’s behavior, which I was able to use almost immediately on one of our walks. (We encountered some scary skateboarding teens, and Darcy immediately redirected with an emergency turn maneuver.) In addition, Michael was constantly available by text, email, or phone and his “check-ups” held both Darcy and me accountable in our training.
Over Christmas, we had an additional 9 houseguests living with us. Darcy behaved like a gentleman (gentledog?) with all of them. We had no incidents of aggression and were even able to continue our learning despite all the distractions.
Whether you have a problem dog, would like a calmer dog, or would like to improve your own dog-parenting skills, I would recommend Michael without hesitation.