Since I started working at the vet office, we've been getting this gorgeous wolf hybrid in on and off for boarding. I had a HUGE breakthrough with her today! Let me back up and give you some history on this girl....
When Savory first started coming to the clinic for boarding, she was extremely skittish. She has severe den aggression and once she decides that her run is her "den" you can NOT enter it! No other vet clinic in town will deal with her at all, only us. In the begining, Savory would run to the back of her run cage and growl and snarl at you if you even walked past. If you tried to open her cage, she would get into the "attack stance". If you tried to enter her cage, she would attack you. Since she would always go to the back of her run, we couldn't get her out without entering the run, since we couldn't enter the run for fear of attack, we couldn't get a leash on her and take her out at all. I started trying to work with her since she's boarded with us a few times a month for 3-4 days at a time. At first, I would get down low and sit outside of her cage without looking at her at all. Once she stopped the growling, I started to attempt to talk to her without her growling at me, (still with my eyes averted). After a while, we were able to get her out, but ONLY if we opened her cage and walked away...once she wandered out, someone hiding in the run next to her's would have to close her run door so she couldn't get back in it. Someone else would have to sit at the other end of the kennel walkway with the door open and wait for her to wander up, carefully slip the leash on and then you could walk her, but not LOOK at her. She acted very much like a wild animal would. This process could take an hour or more and we didn't get to this point until the 5th or 6th time she boarded with us.
Well, Mrs Savory was back for the weekend. I was able to get her to trust me enough that I can open her cage, walk to the back door while she ran on ahead and waited for me to catch up. Slipping the leash on is now fairly easy and then I can open the door and we go for our walks. Now, up until this point, to get the leash off of Savory, we had to use a pole with a hook on the end to hook the slip leash and pull it off her once she was safely in her cage. This weekend, I was able to walk her back to the cage, pet her head (she never allowed this before, would act like you were going to attack her and she'd be ready for it) and slip the leash off her with my bare hand. Once the leash was off, she walked right into her run and would lay down on her bed. The process of getting her out of the run now takes 2 seconds!! Just open the door and start walking away while you call her name!
But, it gets even better!
All weekend when I took her for her walks, I would look at her. (like you would any dog) She would eye me and just keep walking. Well, today we were out walking and all of a sudden, she stopped at my side, turned to me, and JUMPED on me! Of course it freaked me out at first!! This dog had NEVER shown any signs of being either friendly or playful. But she started jumping all over me just wagging her tail with a big grin on her face! I even caught her front feet with my arm and was really able to give her a good scratching behind her ears and all down her back!! She LOVED it!! Both times I took her for walks today she acted playful and friendly!! The owner says that's how she is at home, I just never thought it was in her but it is! I think Savory has finally decided I am friend, not foe!! I'm so excited about this! It's a HUGE breakthrough!! Especially compared to how she was when she first started coming to us! (I still won't take the risk of entering her run while she's in there, but I now feel totally safe and secure handling her for her walks) She's become my favorite one there as of today