“We rescued Murphy when he was one year old, from a home where he was left alone in a yard with a Chihuahua every day. He had not been properly socialized as a baby and his owners did not know how to train or socialize him. As a result he was very fearful of people and other dogs, which came out in aggressive behavior.
We believed he was at heart a sweet, smart, and loving Jack Russell terrier and worked initially with a positive reinforcement trainer, but he was still extremely reactive to other dogs and strangers when she told us she couldn’t take him any further.
We looked for another trainer and found Britta’s website. We were impressed by her background and made an appointment to meet with her. After meeting him, Britta explained that due to his history Murphy would be stressed by too much stimulation and we needed to take it slowly and not push him too much too fast. She had us list his triggers and explained how triggers worked with dogs and with Murphy specifically. Then she had us start on clicker training with positive reinforcement to begin to recondition him.
One of Murphy’s problems was that he didn’t growl if he was nervous but went right into snapping and even biting. Britta explained that he had probably been punished for growling and had us work to teach him to growl again. The first few times we said “Good growl” he seemed shocked that we were rewarding him for it, but then he began to use his growl when he was uncomfortable or nervous and the snapping and biting stopped.
Britta didn’t just train Murphy (and us), she gave us tools to understand his language and communicate with him. The first time I tried using calming signals with him he seemed surprised at first, but ended up on the floor with me licking my face and wagging his tail like crazy. It was probably the first time in his life he really communicated with a person, and it was a turning point for him.
Before Britta, Murphy tolerated, but didn’t really, like petting or too much physical contact. Now he can’t get enough. He initiates being petted and having his tummy rubbed and snuggles up with us when he is tired. He doesn’t freak out when he sees another dog on a walk, and he is confident enough to walk away from us if he needs his space at home.
Last week someone stopped my husband and said Murphy was the most mellow JRT she has ever seen!! She said her 4 year Jack still couldn’t be near other people or dogs without going crazy. Murphy still has a ways to go to be comfortable “in his own skin,” but as we come up on the one-year anniversary of having him it is amazing how far he has come thanks to Britta!” Barb C.