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Success Stories

TACT Case Study: Spot

Spot

SPOT BEFORE TACT:

Spot is a 12 year old Parson Russell Terrier. He was a very well adjusted puppy who lived with 2 Australian Cattle Dogs and another Parson Russell Terrier. As a family we did all kinds of training and showed in agility, flyball, and earthdog trials. Spot got along with all the other dogs in class and on our flyball team. Everyone would take turns holding him and playing with him. He truly seemed to love dogs and people.

When he was about a year and a half old, we took him to an earthdog trial. He had a bad experience which seemed to change him. He was at the start line when he realized he could get to the rats easier if he went around on the outside of the hole instead of going through the tunnels. When he did so, the judge chased him with a clipboard and screamed at him. She was very nasty. He got very scared and ran off into a crowd of people. There were several people trying to help catch him as well as several children running around. He became very frightened and started circling a child. I never saw him so frightened. After that experience he began to distrust people. It soon turned into him reacting to whatever he was afraid of. He would bark, growl, and lunge forward.

Unfortunately, Spot had another traumatic incident in his life. In 2002 he was being boarded at a kennel in New Hampshire. This kennel was a boarding and training kennel. While he was there he was to receive obedience training. This training involved a choke collar and leash pops. Spot was only exposed to click training and positive reinforcement in all of his previous training. This training method proved to be too much for him. Spot escaped from the kennel several times. Each time the staff was able to get him back, except for one last time. The staff could not get him back. They had several people out trying to catch him. Even the neighborhood people were involved in the search. It took the kennel 2 days to call me to tell me what happened. I rushed to New Hampshire. My boy was running loose in the woods with people and other animals chasing him. In the end he was missing for 10 days. We were able to track him with the help of an animal communicator and a dowser. We parked our van where they said he would be, and Spot jumped into the van and into his kennel at midnight of the tenth day. I thank God for bringing him back to me. Those were the worst days of my life. From then on, Spot was a different dog. He was even more fearful of people and dogs. He had started to try to attack what he was afraid of.

I now had a dog that I had to keep isolated from other people and dogs. His reactivity was embarrassing and frightening to me. He was never reactive to me, but he was to other dogs including those in his household. I feared he would bite someone. It was very draining dealing with this behavior problem. Over the years, I worked on desensitizing him to his triggers and had some success, but I needed help.


SPOT AFTER TACT:

I began working with Julie Robitaille and the TACT program. The training has been life altering for both me and Spot. Even when someone is used to training dogs, it is very different and difficult to fix things on your own when it is your own dog. You become too emotionally involved. With Julie's help, I have been able to become more objective in dealing with Spot's issues. He is still in the TACT program and we have had to incorporate techniques into our daily lives that will be there for his lifetime. Julie has helped us progress through the TACT program as Spot's pace using only positive techniques. And I am so proud of the progress Spot has made. He is meeting new people and is working with other dogs WITHOUT REACTING. We have developed a stronger relationship where he looks to me to control the situation when he feels stressed. Because of this he does not "rehearse" his reactive behavior. He is much more relaxed now and can enjoy life. I can take him to more places and do more things with him. I am so grateful to Julie for developing the TACT program! It is truly life changing! Cheryl