Often we get asked how we got into dog training and our story is that Indie was a major trouble dog with us. Why? Because we allowed her to be. We did everything wrong from letting her free roam the house, we let her sleep in our bed and/or in the guest room at night, we let her meet other dogs and people on leash, we allowed her to bark, lunge and whine, we allowed her to rush the front door, we let her live in an excited state of mind, we gave affection at the wrong time, we spoiled her and bought her treats, toys, spent hundreds of dollars on new bedding that she would shed the next day, you name it. People never believe us when we tell them that Indie used to lunge, bark and growled at other dogs during our walks. Indie even got into a tussle with another dog and injured our friend’s dog’s snout. We WISH we had a video to show you how bad she really used to be. It was to the point where me and Mailee would argue and get angry and frustrated at Indie and at each other. We would walk Indie at odd hours when we knew no other neighbors would walk their dogs or if we walked her during the day and saw incoming people and dogs, we would just turn back around and go back home or we would just plain not walk her to avoid the frustration, the embarrassment and the rope burns on our hands from Indie’s pulling (not to mention, people are afraid when they see a reactive pitbull at the end of a leash). We were told to use high value treats such as hot dogs and cheese to redirect her attention to us, nope, nothing worked. The struggle was real. We thought maybe she needed a friend so we adopted Cubbie, only to find out that he had extreme fear issues. Cubbie would walk along our walls, will hide under chairs, was afraid of new people, dogs and hated his crate. Now we had two dogs with issues to deal with. Both Mailee and I lost it, we became frustrated and emotionally unbalanced. Months passed by after Indie started showing her leash aggression behaviors and we decided it was time to reach out to a professional dog trainer. We were tired of being upset. Why did we wait that long before we asked for help? I’m not sure, that was the dumbest thing ever. I wish we could go back in time and would have addressed this issue as soon as Indie’s behavior started showing. I quickly googled “dog training MN” and the first result that came up was “the ##### voted best of the twin cities.” With that title and award I quickly contacted someone there for a 1:1 session to “fix” my dog with her aggression or at least to guide us in the right direction. We met “trainer” (I won’t name her) at the Battle Creek dog park parking lot entrance and you bet that Indie was already going nuts. The trainer wasn’t really engaged with us, she just quickly showed us what we should be doing with Indie. Not to mention, we were using a gentle leader at the time (a tool with basically zero control over your dog’s brain). We saw little to no improvement where Indie wouldn’t bark but she would still lunge and growled at every person that was coming out of the dog park with their dog. We spent 1 hour with the trainer and went home thinking “Okay…we didn’t see much of a change during that session but we stayed hopeful and thought maybe we just needed to apply this technique every day for drastic change in the future.” Again, months went on by applying the method we were taught and Indie’s aggression was just getting worse, she was injuring her snout by pulling and lunging so much on her gentle leader. At this point, we lost all hope. Mailee and I decided to start fostering and thought maybe if we kept bringing dogs in and out of the house, Indie’s aggression and Cubbie’s fear of other dogs would lessen, which it did to some level (when we were inside the home she was completely fine) but as soon as we stepped out the front door, Indie was back at it again (cubbie was more manageable but still fearful). We asked our rescue organizer if she knew anyone who could train Indie and her aggressive behavior, thankfully she did. She pointed us to her friend Tiffany (who does training for her rescue dogs). Tiffany was the beginning of a shining light we had been waiting for. We attended one lecture/seminar and she introduced us to the prong collar. Mailee and I both were really afraid to use the prong collar on our dog. We were afraid to hurt Indie and had read so many awful things about the tool but at the end of Tiffany’s seminar, our view of the prong collar had changed and it had changed for the better. From there, things changed, not completely but drastically. After that, we decided to board dogs and train them while we boarded them…the training structure and method we research, found and applied, worked. We were able to help people who were going through the same thing we had gone through, we gave people hope, we gave people strength and knowledge…then in November 2015 we founded Funtastic K9 Training, LLC. Today, we help people with cases such as dog to dog aggression, human aggression, leash aggression, anxiety and fear issues etc. As far as Indie’s leash aggression, it is going away, we still have work to do but it is close to being completely gone. Indie is the superstar and the working dog of our company and she helps us rehabilitate other dogs, while Cubbie’s fear of humans and other dogs is completely gone and he is a happy, confident little dog now.
So when you think your dog is the worse dog in the world and that you are at your wit’s’ end, don’t give up. There is hope.