From our trainer, Andrew, who is working with Brenda and her SDIT, Bailey. Brenda suffers from severe PTSD and anxiety.
This was my first session with Brenda and Bailey. As I entered the house, Bailey immediately began to show fear and panic. I got down on all fours, then onto my belly and took to soothing her in a submissive position. Brenda handed me a bag full of hot dogs. I worked on training eye contact and relaxation. Bailey is a smart dog, fully capable of becoming a Service Dog, but Brenda and myself both agree that if she is unable to overcome the fear of others in two more sessions, then Brenda will begin searching for another dog to be her Service Dog. Bailey did show positive signs of acceptance by the end of our session, so I am hopeful for her. The poor girl just needs some gentle training to help build that confidence in the real world.
At our second session, we worked a little more on Bailey’s acceptance of me. We worked outside, and Bailey showed more submission to my presence. In the past, Brenda has taken Bailey to a facility for training. It appears that the methods this organization used more than likely stifled Bailey’s confidence. Apparently, they use electronic collar training, which Service Dog Express would NEVER use because it is a form of negative reinforcement and instills fear in any dog. I believe that Bailey is afraid that she will have to endure more of this abusive form of training when she sees me. To try and counteract this, I bring lots of treats and use lots of slow motion praise. At the next session, we will determine whether or not we are going to use Bailey as a Service Dog or not. If she is able to overcome this fear, then we will proceed; if not then we will look for another dog. It is a true shame that such a wonderful dog with so much potential had to endure this former training.