Just imagine what's it's like to walk down the street prepared to react to any dog that might cross your path. Big, small, Yorkie or Pit Bull...you're ready to take them all on. Snapping, barking, snarling, leaping, announcing to anyone and everyone that "I am not afraid". You've gotten to the point that you are totally conditioned to think that if you make the first move it would show that you are a force to be reckoned with, which of course was not the case. Deep down you're as fearful as they come.

That was life with our big standard poodle boy, Emmett. The anticipation started as soon as I put his leash on. I could feel myself beginning to tense up. It turns out that I was just as up tight as he was. How did this happen? After having Standards for over 25 years (all girls I might add), my wife and I couldn't believe we were raising a dog as reactive as Emmett. Nothing worked. We had hired several dog behaviorists and spent hundreds of dollars on an internationally known dog training franchise. They were the ones that told us that we should take a strong disciplinary approach. Things only got worse. We began to think that we might have to give him up? But, how could we? He was such a sweet soul and as smart as they come. We were at a total loss.

Then Maggie came into our lives. After watching Emmett and me struggling from a distance, she finally approached us in the park. She asked if she could help. I was desperate. How could I say no? The first thing she did was to train me. It turns out, I needed a lot of work. She helped me learn how to relax my body and stop reacting myself as another dog approached. She taught me that if I didn't instantly tense up, Emmett would sense that maybe everything would be alright. It was a way to build up his trust in me. No more scolding if he overreacted, just calm correction. She patiently showed me how to distract him from other dogs with treats. And, most importantly, how to praise him and give him a treat every single time he passed a dog without an incident.

After awhile, these simple but mind-opening concepts have become a part of our lives. A new dog has started to emerge. I can't believe it. I am calm. He is calmer. Sure it's still work in progress, but we've come miles from where we were. Now, I actually look forward to long, leisurely walks with little, if any, reaction to other dogs.

Maggie...Emmett thanks you. My wife and I thank you. Your patience, understanding and pure dog know-how has changed our lives

-Stephen Dolleck

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