Michele, Doug and Diana,
When we brought Romeo to be evaluated by you we were desperate to find someone that understood dogs with aggression issues.
We adopted Romeo, a “boxer/lab mix” in October of 2007 as a dog for my daughter. We previously rescued two other dogs and did not have issues with them. After Romeo was neutered and had all his 4 month shots, we took him to obedience training locally in San Dimas. Romeo was always the dog they put off to the side because his deep growl and his “powerfulness” were extremely intimidating to the other dogs in the class. As time went on he did appear to become more submissive, but my daughter was definitely fearful of walking him alone and did not trust him around other people and dogs. After completing the dog training, we were told to sign him up again. After the first class, we received a letter stating, they could not manage Romeo safely in the class and felt he needed too much one on one time. They referred us to Assertive K-9 Kennels.
Often when my daughter was trying to walk Romeo or even try to put his collar on (a choke chain”, it was a battle to get it on him. Often he would jump at or even bite at her arms in the process. One night, he did hurt her badly and we decided that we needed to take him for evaluation at Assertive K-9 Kennels after procrastinating to do so. My daughter also was getting extremely frustrated and upset. We took the last incident very seriously and realized in order to continue to be responsible dog owners and give Romeo a happy life and ultimately save his life, we needed to take action. After all, he was now a 50lb dog…not the 12lb puppy we brought home.
I took Romeo out to Assertive K-9 Kennels alone… Doug did his evaluation and was very clear with us, just what kind of dog we were actually dealing with. Our “boxer/lab mix” was more likely a “boxer/pit” or as we like to call him a “boxerotti” mix with genetic aggressive tendencies. It was hard to hear how we would have to change our ways and the commitment that was going to be involved, in addition to the financial component. We had been doing everything wrong!
I took Romeo home. I had a long talk with my husband and daughter. I have to say I honestly proposed to my daughter that I would take Romeo alone and have him put down if she wasn’t willing to deal with this kind of dog. I told her I could not adopt him back out knowing that he might hurt someone or something. With three kids in college and the struggles that everyone goes through, coming up with the finances was our biggest challenge. Additionally, I can honestly say we had our doubts about anyone being able to change Romeo’s 7 month old behaviors that we, unfortunately, contributed to greatly.
A family member that knows how much our animals mean to us, offered to “sponsor” Romeo through the in-house training.
We dropped off Romeo for as we call if fondly “doggie boot camp”. We showed Michele the bruises and cuts on my daughter’s arms. Romeo was subdued for a bit, but when Doug and his helper tried to lead him away, Romeo showed us for the first time, just how aggressive he really was capable of being… it was frightening.
After 8 very long weeks, we finally went to pick up Romeo. We first saw him walking off in the distance with Doug and we couldn’t believe how calm he was. We were given a demonstration without Romeo knowing we were there and then he was introduced back to us. We took very seriously the basics we were provided with. When we brought Romeo home, he did try to revert back to his old behavior. As hard as it was, we kenneled him and followed Diana’s instructions to the tee. During the first couple of days, Romeo wasn’t perfect and we did get discouraged, but we kept at it. We then also started coming for the group classes.
After all the work and it is a day to day, everyday commitment, Romeo has turned out to be a great dog… We have to respect that he is a “power” breed and has potential aggression issues… we take responsibility and use the tools we have been taught… they absolutely work.My daughter exercises Romeo daily using the K-9 Cruiser attachment, he gets walked, trained and his downs… but he also gets free time and he is a happy, contented dog. My daughter has even been able to take him to the park and play ball with him on the long leash. He also has gotten to learn how to be around other people when introduced properly… People can hardly believe what a sweetheart he is compared to the scary dog they think he is initially. My daughter has become a different person through working with him.. she is not fearful or afraid of him anymore.
Romeo truly has been able to live up to his name with thanks to Doug, Diana and Michele and all the helpers at Assertive K-9 Training, but more importantly for helping us save his life. You gave us back hope and a renewed faith that all dogs are innately good dogs, just sometimes (in your words)… “misunderstood”…..
Allison & Amanda