Jahn Hargrave

New York, USA

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These sweet, innocent looking little darlings are named Max and Chance and they are the light of my life. Both are shelter dogs and as best as my vet can tell, pitt bull/boxer mixes. I first acquired Max when a friend of mine left for boot camp and needed someone to care for him. Since he is in the Army National Guard, and can have to leave on a moments notice, he gave me Max when he realized how much I had fallen in love with him. However, Max is seventy-five pounds of pure energy and exuberance! He was a real challenge on a leash, even for my friend and he's a very strong man. After following your advice in Secrets to Dog Training, I am pleased to tell you that we go for long walks/jogs in the park and Max is wonderful. He stops when I command him to and resumes when told. He slows down when I do and picks up the pace when I begin to run. He could easily send me to the chiropractor if he had a mind too, but he has become a joy to walk and he helps keep me motivated on the days I don't really feel like walking. I consider him my exercise machine with fur.
Now... for the real challenge. In February of this year, my friend and I decided that Max needed a playmate. There are so many great dogs in shelters that need a good home that I feel compelled to look there first. We found Chance at a Humane Society here in NY. He was so sweet. We took Max to visit him at the shelter and they got along wonderfully, so a week later we brought Chance home.
He was fabulous when we were home with him, very loving and well behaved, but what the shelter neglected to tell us, (until we called back a month later about his neuter certificate) was that he had been returned three times because he suffered from separation anxiety and was very destructive when left alone. We tried caging him but he is so strong that he bent the door on the cage. We had the door reinforced and his buddy, Max Houdini, found a way to get him out! They would pull a blanket or article of clothing through the cage until they couldn't stuff it anymore and Max would pull from the outside until they bent the cage walls! They are very smart dogs! We tried padlocking the cage, etc., but finally gave up the idea as it distressed Chance to be left in it for four hours at a time. Instead, we concentrated on dog proofing the house. We put the garbage up so that he couldn't tear it up, cleaned the carpet with Ammonia where he had gone inside to remove his scent and deter further bad behavior. We made sure he went out twice before we left home and always leave the radio on for him. We spent time picking out toys that we knew would keep them entertained, and we gave them plenty of attention when we were home.
Chance would follow us around the house every where we moved for hours after we returned and when either of us put on our coats, he would get extremely nervous. I began wearing my coat inside the house for a while even when I wasn't going out and I left a blanket off our bed for them when we were away. It has been a long haul and a lot of cleaning, but I am pleased to say that he is much better. He still has an occasional setback, but for the most part, patience has paid off and he and Max behave well when we leave the house.
I believe it was the combination of the training techniques in Secrets to Dog Training and good old fashioned patience that paid off. Chance is now pretty secure that he has a good home and that he is not going to be returned to the shelter or abandoned and I think that helps. For those of you looking for a new dog, puppies are wonderful, but a shelter dog truly need you. Go ahead, visit one today. I dare you not to fall head over heels in love!

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