Saving Sasha

When I adopted my cute little rescue dog close to five months ago, I was extremely fortunate to have both my experience as a dog trainer and my formal education in animal behavior. Though Sasha is as sweet as they come, she came with unique baggage and had various behavioral quirks that we needed to work through. It was my boyfriend that had the idea for this blog when he said, “not everyone is as lucky as us to have a live-in dog trainer; just think of all the people who adopt dogs and don’t know how to handle some of these things. Maybe you should write about it so that you can help more people.”

So, for those of you who have recently adopted dogs with some of these same quirks and challenges, stay tuned. My upcoming posts will cover many of the hurdles that we encountered with Sasha, which include:

  • Being a very strong puller on-leash
  • Learning to be calm and polite with my two resident kitties
  • Leash reactivity when seeing other dogs while on walks (and the related challenge: How do I know if my dog will get along well with other dogs, and this behavior is only limited to the context of being on-leash?)
  • Housebreaking, which is a challenge that we are still dealing with. Though Sasha now knows the appropriate place to eliminate, she hasn’t generalized: she still gets confused while visiting my parents’ house, and still does not have a consistent way to ask to go outside.

If any of these things sound familiar to you, take heart: you’re not alone, but there is so much that you can do to help your dog work through these challenges, and help him or her be successful! In my following posts I will explain what I did to help Sasha become a polite leash walker, peacefully coexist (and even snuggle!) with the cats, and the big one: become calm while seeing other dogs on a walk. It takes a lot of positive reinforcement and even more patience, but our precious pets are worth it.

It took some time to get to this point, but now Sasha and Hammy are good buddies! This picture was taken a month after we adopted her; these days, these two even snuggle together on the couch.


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