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Touch Associated Clicker Training

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Success Stories

TACT Case Study: Tula

Tula

TULA BEFORE TACT:

Tula is a 6 year old akita mix who was rescued from a Brooklyn junkyard around the age of 2. At adoption, I was informed of her behavioral and possessive issues with the recommendation that she only needed obedience training and strong leadership from an owner. I was more than willing to commit to whatever amount of time and effort it would take to train Tula , but I never thought it would be to the extent of isolating her from other dogs and people.

It turned out that Tula has layers of issues from dog reactivity, food and toy possessiveness, people-sensitivity and handling-touch sensitivity. These behavioral issues were all apparent the moment I brought her home to a dog-friendly apartment complex. She was highly stimulated and stressed by the new environment displaying excessive drooling, overexcitement that turned into aggressive behaviors (lunging, spinning and growling) at dogs and anxiety around people in common day-to-day situations. More unusual and concerning, Tula was not interested in interacting with me. She allowed me to pet her head, but was guarded about other areas of her body and her space. She often kept her distance, laying in her own place unless it was time to go outside or to eat. Now imagine, other friends, family members, trainers and vets trying to interact with Tula. I was becoming the only person who could care and manage her. However, what I did notice over time was that Tula was becoming interested & curious about people and dogs. I knew I needed help. She needed help. When researching these types of dog issues, I came across Emma Parson's book, Click to Calm and discovered she offered Reactive Dog classes in the area. In class, I learned that Tula lacked social skills. She needed to be desensitized to her triggers and to learn how to react positively or in alternative appropriate ways. There was hope! Yes!


TULA AFTER TACT:

The Reactive Dog classes truly helped me learn to manage Tula when encountering other dogs outside but her people and handling sensitivity issues still needed to be addressed. Fortunately, I was thrilled and relieved to meet Julie Robataille through those classes as she introduced the benefits of animal massage therapy and TACT in brief one-one sessions. Tula even began to seek Julie out for attention, which made my decision to move forward in trying Julie's TACT approach an easy choice. TACT has made a huge difference in Tula's personality and life. The training itself has provided a very comfortable, structured-predictable approach using clicker-training and positive reinforcement. Most importantly, Tula's progression through the program was purely based on her comfort (sub-threshold) and success level. The end result is a much more happy, flexible and manageable dog. Tula can greet and interact with people in a safe, predictable way. She clearly enjoys the interaction of getting scratchies in return. I am able to take her to new, different places with various stimulus (i.e. hot air balloon festival, soccer games, neighborhood walks). Tula has even graduated from her reactive dog class to regular dog training classes and enjoys walking and playing with her dog-cousin, Norwood. (She has a friend!) When going to the vet, I now have a routine that helps manage Tula through the exam. All in all, TACT has developed a stronger relationship between us. She trusts me and follows my lead anytime she's feeling stressed. Best of all, TACT has helped her to enjoy being a dog!