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Hi Kari Anne,
How nice to hear from you. Thank you so much for your kind comments about my
DVD. I'm so glad I'll get to meet you in person in September.
Here's my advice, for what it's worth:
1) Breathe! (deeply and often
2) Lighten up on yourself. Be very proud of all you are doing to help Ayla.
Her aggressive behavior is embarrassing, for sure, but it is just behavior.
It's not a personal reflection on you. It is instead a challenge that has
motivated you to learn more about dog training and behavior modification.
3) Can you find a trusted friend to do some practice sessions with you? That
way, you won't be ashamed if Ayla's behavior is less than perfect, and you
will gain some confidence for real life walks in public.
4) Consider buying a basket muzzle (wire or plastic) and getting Ayla
comfortable wearing it. The muzzle will attract nasty looks from some folks,
but it will also allow you to feel less nervous that Ayla might actually
5) I've always been a high-energy, intense person (some would say "manic").
A few years ago, I found that taking yoga classes really helped me control
my own emotional reactions in stressful situations. I am now much more able
to convey calm "centeredness" through the leash. Do they have yoga in
Norway? (just joking -- I'm sure they do).
6) Lastly, one of my own dogs came to me as a hand-me-down dog with an
aggression problem. I had never owned an aggressive dog before, and I
learned something really important about how humiliated and ashamed and
angry and betrayed I could feel when Nick bit one of my friends. No one was
hurt, but I was physically sick to my stomach. I'd never known how traumatic
it was to witness your own beloved family member behave so inappropriately!
So I have real empathy for how upset you have been by Ayla's behavior. But
remember that your reactions are normal, and they will ease as Ayla's