Northern Virginia / Metro DC

Dog Training by Appointment

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Personality Plus Penny!

Originally I met Penny to help with some overall manners. She is an amazing little bulldog with a very large personality who also can sport a nice nightgown on cold nights. To know her is to definitely love her. Penny benefited from a board and train program as well as a few in-home lessons. However, as Penny got older, some more issues surfaced, namely the inability to calm down which then led to more aggressive behaviors such as charging the teenagers in the house as they were getting ready for school, being relentless towards other dogs and not reading their social cues and eventually landing a bite on a family member. 

Part of helping Penny was understanding her background. While it is not typical that we know every dog’s true background, it is nice to have it in this situation, as it explains A LOT.   Shortly after Penny was born, her mother died. A surrogate was called in, however, she didn’t want much to do with the puppies, therefore Penny never had a mama dog to teach her the basics. A few basics such as,  how to calm down easily as well as bite inhibition. Truly, for Penny’s start in life she is doing really well; her biggest issue was the inability to calm down, she would become wound up super fast and nothing would stop her! As these behaviors reared their ugly head, we had another in-home session where we had to put some hardcore rules down for Miss Penny. No furniture was rule number one. She would patrol the yard from the back of the sofa. In the morning, she would sit elevated on the sofa, watching her teenage sisters get ready for school and with one wrong move from them (meaning putting on backpacks and preparing water bottles), she would launch herself towards them. Essentially, the sofa was a throne and Penny became its queen. Penny does not have to love backpacks or water bottles BUT she does not have to take that as a challenge to launch herself in their direction. We practiced drills to teach her when something makes her uncomfortable she has other options…to retreat or relax rather than attack. 

Our second rule was no unwarranted affection. It is important that Penny not be inadvertently rewarded for inappropriate behavior. This was the hardest part for the family because 1. Penny is ADORABLE and ridiculously funny MOST of the time! 2. Penny has a truly sweet and kind family who rightfully so wants to shower their dog with affection. However, if you give Penny a millimeter, she takes 10 miles. So we have to be careful with our actions when it comes to Penny! 

Finally, the family learned how to look for signs when Penny is about to become over-stimulated and how to redirect that over stimulation BEFORE it becomes an issue. I am so proud of her family for following through to help Penny become a well-adjusted family member!

Penny sent me this lovely note not too long ago:


Hello Ms Lauren! I just wanted to let you know I am being a good girl! I have not been up on the couch since you were here, I really like my bed now and I’m a lot calmer. I still don’t like backpacks or the gate but now I run over by the couch when they come out. Thank you so much for helping me be my best self! I will always be a little bit of a turd but I am trying!!! –  Penny

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