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I wish I had met David Reinecker a year and a half ago. That was when I adopted a pit bull/ridgeback mix I named Nuala. Nuala was adorable, good-natured, and friendly. Unfortunately, she was also dog aggressive, occasionally people aggressive, a menace on a leash, and she also had a severe case of separation anxiety. She destroyed my house, broke my finger pulling on the leash, and lunged at little old ladies on a regular basis.
I tried everyone. First I went to (--), who was good with “sit,” “stay,” etc. but did nothing for Nuala’s aggression and separation anxiety. After a few weeks, she declared Nuala hopeless and suggested I bring her back to the rescue group. Next came (--). She helped with the separation anxiety somewhat — I got Nuala crate trained — but her clicker method of on-leash training was useless.
Around this time I moved into a new house and Nuala became increasingly stressed out and aggressive. She barked at the slightest noise outside and became Cujo when the doorbell rang, literally hurling herself against the door, barking. And visitors? She was fine with friends of mine but with transient visitors like carpenters and workmen she was a menace. I consulted a pit bull specialist, who suggested telling her to “go crate” when people came over. This worked, but it didn’t help with her initial reaction to the doorbell. It also meant she would be locked up when a strange man came over. I wanted her to behave and be available if something went wrong; I didn’t want her stuck in a crate.
Meanwhile, her separation anxiety was still a problem. If I tried leaving her in the dog run I built for her, she howled for hours, and the same techniques I had used to acclimate her to a crate didn’t seem to work. I tried leaving her in the house but she ripped a cabinet in half to get at the trash, scratched the dining room table, and cruised the counters eating everything in her path. (After she ate an entire jar of supplements, I spent a thousand dollars getting her stomach pumped.)
Then suddenly, as pit bulls are apt to do around age 2 1/2, she began fighting. She got into a fight at the dog park and at the doggy day care place where she had been going for over a year without incident. She clamped down on a dog’s neck and did the “death shake.” She was expelled.
I was at my wits end. Many of my friends and family encouraged me to give up. I think most sane people would have. Then I remembered a brochure my vet at TLC had given me way back when. It was for a trainer and dog aggression expert named David Reinecker. I pulled it out. I called.
Boy was I glad I did.
On the first day of training, David gave me some simple techniques to curb Nuala’s aggression when the doorbell rang. Within a day or two, Nuala stopped hurling herself at the door. When strange people came over, she went and laid down and acted like a lady. Her overall stress level decreased. Gone was the incessant alert barking that drove me crazy.
In our next session David introduced me to his technique of using a gentle leader to walk Nuala and curb her dog aggression. I had previously used a gentle leader and given up on it. I guess I had never been using it correctly, or had never been using it the David way. Within an hour, Nuala was calmly walking at my side and was looking up at me as one strange dog walked by on one side and a different strange dog walked by on the other. It was nothing short of a miracle.
David also taught me his own special use of the “Off”command. I used to have to fight Nuala or tug with her to get her to drop a toy. Now I only have to say “off’ softly and she drops what she’s holding immediately. It also works when we’re walking. If she focuses on another dog or a squirrel, I say, “Off” and she looks right up at me.
David was a miracle in my life. He saved my sanity and he no doubt saved my dog’s life. If things had gone on the way they were going, I might have given up on Nuala, and I’m sure that would have meant the end of her.
So if you’ve got a dog with behavioral problems, call David Reinecker at Dog Remedy. You won’t regret it.
Terri Kopp & Nuala
Writer/ Producer Law & Order
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