It's become very clear to us that Tonka has been abused. While he is the sweetest thing inside our house, the outside world scares him to death. He is very nervous, barking and lunging at anything that moves including flags, plastic bags blowing in the wind and especially other dogs and people. His needs are beyond our understand so we have enlisted our local Dog Whisperer to help us.
I went with Morgan to our first consultation. When we first walked through the door Tonka went ballistic, to the point that he broke out of his collar and ran away. After rounding him back up, the Dog Whisperer (DW) looped his leash so it was high up on his neck, imitating the nipping a dominate dog would do to another, and held it tight until Tonka sat. Tonka reacted by freaking out. He was so mentally unable to loose control that he full blown threw up before sitting. DW explained to us that he has always had to look out for himself, nobody has ever done it for him, so he is hypersensitive to the world around him. We need to take absolute control so that he feels safe and secure. At one point, DW brought another dog in to see Tonka's reaction. Once again, Tonka threw up. He had Tonka sit for the whole hour and during that time, you could see him start to relax.
For a flat rate, we have unlimited private sessions with DW. When Tonka is comfortable enough to be integrated with other dogs/people, we will have unlimited group classes for the life of the dog. He also wants us to bring Champ to the next private session. There is no extra cost for Champ. He is also welcome to all group sessions. DW wants Morgan to be involved as well. She is to be included in any of the private and group sessions.
When we left, Tonka was already a different dog. And boy was he exhausted. Mental stimulation such as concentrating on sit can be as tiring to them as a long run.
Our assignment for this week is to make Tonka feel like he must earn his keep. We are in charge and he must abide by us. We are to keep him on a leash or in his kennel at all times. We are supposed to have him sit and focus on sitting for 20 minutes a day. When we see him getting nervous, we are supposed to gently tug on his special collar to tell him in dog talk that we are in charge, we see the problem and he doesn't need to worry. He still gets hyper. He still barks. He still jumps and cowers. But he is definitely getting better. When someone came to our door, he barked, but instead of running to the door and lunging, he stayed sitting. I have absolute faith that in a couple of months, he will be a confident, secure dog.