Mutts Manners

Luna's story

Luna was another extreme behaviour case I worked with. She was probably the most anxious dog I've come across.

Thank you Joe for saving our dog

Tilda from Wishaw, Lanarkshire - October 2016

Where do I start? We contacted Joe at Mutts Manners after we had tried everything to help our GSD, Luna. She's our fourth GSD so we're used to the breed but very soon after bringing her home as a puppy we knew she was 'special' and not in a good way. She was always very reactive to other dogs from day one, so much so, that we had to sit separate in puppy classes! Yes, even as a very young pup she had issues and we used every trick in the book to help but to no avail. We've never had an issue training any of our other dogs and were stumped with why Luna was the way she was. She'd almost pull me off my feet while on lead, meaning hubs had to do most of her walks, and she'd be pulling like a train as our lab pup walked perfectly to heel with me!

We used a trainer – didn't work as they were of the positive reinforcement using treats school. Well, that works if several things are present in the dog, one being they are food oriented and another is if they can focus. Luna had neither of those. We could wave a piece of steak in front of her and she wouldn't notice, not when she was 'in the zone'. We also had another behaviourist out but again they kept saying to use treats. Luna was NOT food orientated so treats were a completely useless way to try and gain her attention.

She was reactive not only to dogs, but if anyone got, in her opinion, too close to us if we were out. The amount of people that would turn and almost run in the opposite direction was too many to count. It was frustrating and embarrassing for us as we'd never dealt with such a dog before. She'd go absolutely crazy if anyone came onto our property, almost launching herself through the window to get to the poor postie. We were literally at our wits end when I found Mutts Manners. Joe came out and met Luna and agreed to help. She went to him for two weeks and this is where Joe realized the extent of her problems. He told us she was one of the most extreme cases he'd dealt with. He soon found out what we'd been dealing with but agreed with us, she wasn’t aggressive, it was mostly nervousness and fear that caused her reactions. That was something we knew but try telling that to someone in the street when she’s up on her back legs barking as if she wants to rip their throat out!

When she came home things were great! For two days! Then we had problems again but Joe came out again, and again, to help us and reinforce we had to stick with the regime. At every step of the way he was always there to give us advice and help. We carried on relentlessly, determined to help her, and help is what she required. If we couldn’t do this, then the alternative was to rehome and that's not something we wanted to even consider. She was our furbaby and we wouldn't give one of our children away if they were causing problems and we couldn't do that to Luna. It was a lot of work, it still is, as we have a black Lab pup and had to change everything so we were walking/exercising them separately to give Luna full focus when she was out.

In week three, both my husband and I were beginning to despair, wondering again and again what we were doing wrong. BUT then things started to improve. I'm not sure exactly what happened but it was probably our dogged determination to follow what Joe had taught us and 'stick with the programme' so to speak. But one day hubs came back from her walk and he was excited. He'd met another man with a GSD who allowed his dog and Luna to 'meet' and they hit it off right away, so much so that they had an off lead runaround for a few mins and she came back when recalled.

Things have improved greatly since then. Luna will never be a 'perfect' dog, she has issues that seems to come from birth and is in her DNA, and she still gets anxious and fearful at times, but from where we were at the beginning – dang, it's like night and day. We also use her crate now for when she's anxious and it calms her down, whereas before I always felt guilty about putting her in there.

I've learned that the crate isn’t a punishment but somewhere she can relax and feel safe and that's something she needs to help her. I can’t thank Joe enough, for his knowledge, patience, and determination to help us. He’s always there if we need him and he’s the reason that Luna is slowly becoming a calmer and happier dog. Before, she'd look at me, and I could clearly see in her eyes she wasn’t happy, she was scared and I'd tried my best to help her but we needed Joe to get us there. Now she walks to heel, with no pulling, so both of us can walk her and although she does still bark occasionally at another dog, it's not every dog, and it's not the rearing up on back legs, crazy Cujo behaviour, it's like night and day and as we continue to work with her I know it's only going to get better. Thank you Joe for saving our dog for us.

Luna ignoring a Collie

Luna casually watching two off lead dogs playing

Luna having a sweet moment with my girl



Luna's update 6 months later

So, it's been about six months since Luna stayed at Joe'' and I thought I’d do a wee update, especially as Joe was in for a quick visit recently. He saw for himself how far she’s come from the ‘crazy’ dog he first encountered. I think he was proud of how she was when he popped in, so much calmer, staying in place, even falling asleep at one point she was so calm.

She’s put weight on, her whole face has changed, both with being calm and the weight gain – she quite literally is a different dog. Since September I’ve recommended Joe for our oldest daughter’s dog and her mother-in-law’s dog – that’s how highly I think of him! Our daughter says he’s a ‘miracle worker’ and, of course, I agree whole heartedly.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again…he saved our Luna. Now, onto a wee story – hubs was in the park recently with her, and yes, she now gets off lead (yay!!) and a gentleman came in with his two dogs who were also off lead, and one of them was kinda like the way Luna used to be (except we never allowed her off lead then!). It came charging at her, going crazing, barking and snarling, with the man running after it, calling on it…and of course it totally ignored him. Hubs recalled Luna and she came back, sat beside him, with this dog right next to them still barking and snarling…wait for it…she didn’t react! Well, apart from a slight lip curl, but no barking, no moving away, and remember, she was NOT on lead. Hubs just stood with his hand lightly on her head telling her to ‘wait’ once as the owner finally arrived apologizing and frantically trying to grab his crazy mad dog. Hubs told the man that Luna used to be like that (although he was diplomatic enough to leave out that we would never have allowed her off lead) and the man looked at her then at hubs as if to say, ‘yeah right’, but before hubs could pass on the ‘how’ Luna got to where she is now the owner was hauling his dog away, shouting at it. Yeah, as if that’s going to work!

She doesn’t get off lead all the time, it’s her treat and she loves playing with her ball in the park with hubs, but only after she’s had her structured walk. I’ve sent a wee pic of her, this is another reason I’m doing an update, because she’s been in for an op. We recently found a couple of lumps, one of which looked pretty suspect, and after consulting with our Vet (one we have to travel for as they are raw feeding friendly and also encourage holistic healing practices) we opted to have them removed and sent for analysis. She is feeling wee bit sorry for herself at the moment but she sailed through the op and we are just waiting on results with fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that all is well. If you can send some healing thoughts her way it would be very much appreciated, our gorgeous girl is on the mend but she is, and always will be, my baby and I worry about her something fierce. She’ll be heading off to Joe’s soon for a wee break when I’m off on holiday and I know she’ll have a ball with him and his pack, especially now she knows how to behave!