This is Sam, a blue merle collie. Sam was an extremely nervous aggressive dog. He was originally assigned to another behaviourist in France, who unfortunately (for personal reasons) had to return to the UK. So Sam was assigned to ME. I had no introduction to Sam or advice from the previous behaviourist in which to help me in this task, and only 5 days before his owners were due to collect him.
The quick turn around plan
Day one, as I approached his run he growled, barked and lunged aggressively. I began to visit him between working with the other dogs to begin the process of winning his confidence in me. I stood outside his run ignoring him and slowly began to introduce “calming signals” in the hope of establishing a better communication with Sam. By the end of that first day he started to show signs of being both calm and relaxed. However, preferring to stay in the far corner of his run (none the less, progress had been made).
Day two I decided to introduce my secret weapon – a sausage! He accepted this well. During the distraction I managed to get a lead on him and take him out for our first walk together. All the while continuing with the calming signals program when there was a need.
By day three we were away and he was happy with me coming and going. When his owners arrived on day 5, they were amazed to see him not only walking without a muzzle but also not pulling wildly on the lead! In fact Sam looked calm, relaxed, and balanced. They told me that when Sam is at home, he still has to visit his own dog behaviourist in a muzzle (after a year of sessions). He also has to have various calming medications from the vet, who also require that Sam is muzzled.
So never underestimate the power of calming signals for a nervous aggressive dog … And a good sausage!