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Case Study: Meet Leila

Leila is a two year old female Chihuahua.

She found her first home when she was 6 weeks old with a young couple. While they had all the right intentions in the beginning, they found that they were not equipped to provide a stable environment for a dog due to their medical issues.

Fortunately for Leila, her owners had another family member who was willing to adopt Leila and provide her with a better life.

At first, Leila’s new owner, Brenda, found her to be shy and somewhat fearful in her new environment. This is understandable when you consider her life to this point. She is a healthy little dog but her social skills definitely needed some improvement especially when it came to meeting new people and other dogs.

Brenda was patient with her but found that when Leila was in an unfamiliar or stressful situation she would pee on the floor or even hyper-ventilate. It was also difficult to get her to listen when given a command.

When Brenda decided to seek help for Leila’s issues, she called me and I met with Leila and Brenda for their in-home assessment. When I met her for the first time, I found her to be exactly as Brenda had described, fearful and shy with strangers. I made no attempt to touch Leila since I did not want to frighten her so I ignored her altogether and waited for her to come to me. A short time later she came over to sniff my clothes and I considered that a good beginning.

Brenda and I talked about our group obedience classes and how they might help Leila to build her confidence. Brenda agreed and a few weeks later she joined one of our basic obedience classes with Leila.

In the beginning, Leila was shy with the other dogs and people in her class but, as the weeks went by, she slowly began to relax and improve. It was a challenge for her to sit on command but with Brenda’s patience and persistence, she began to sit automatically when Brenda stopped walking. She was also able to walk beside Brenda without pulling and come when she was called. While some of our other basic commands were still a challenge for Leila, she was definitely getting better. One week, when we were practising the ‘sit and release’ command, Leila got up and approached another dog in class without fear, just basic curiosity. This was a first for her and was an exciting moment for everyone in class.

I also suggested that Brenda should start using a crate for Leila so she would have a place to go and feel safe when they had to leave her alone in the house. Brenda agreed and purchased a crate for Leila. While she was unsure about the crate at first, with Brenda’s encouragement and a few tips from me, Leila walked in and out of the crate on her own for the first time on April 14th. Brenda was ‘over the moon’ but continues to take baby steps with Leila.

While Leila’s behaviour is improving, it is still important that she be exposed to new situations to help her learn how to cope with them and to look to Brenda as her leader for guidance and approval.

It is also important for Brenda to consistently practise Leila’s obedience commands to build her confidence even more.

At this point, Brenda is happy with Leila’s progress and is encouraged to continue with her training in the future.

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