CCC for Reactive Dogs
Team Kimba’s Story
CCC changed our life. Before CCC Kimba was extremely dog reactive, I don’t think she trusted me to help so she took charge (she was also lightning fast, I am not) making poor decisions – barking and lunging. The longer this went on the more reactive and frustrated I became too. I was bad at totally disconnecting when people talked to me, leaving Kimba hanging and opening the door for poor decision making. We really weren’t a good fit. Suzanne Clothier told me Kimba wanted to get up in the morning and go for a 5-mile run and then come home and go for a 20-mile bike ride meanwhile I was still drinking my second cup of tea and reading the newspaper! We loved each other but I don’t think we liked each other. Kimba certainly didn’t respect me!
I had spent years going to different seminars and workshops and taking reactive dog training classes, but nothing helped with the fundamental problem – our connection. Then we found CCC
CCC changed everything. It taught us both to check in with each other and when Kimba looked to me for direction it gave me time to be proactive and decide what we were going to do together to avoid a conflict. I learned how to split my attention and remain connected and to be consistent and clear about my expectations. Kimba learned about cooperation and working together in connection as a team.
I took the on-line classes and Kimba and I had a blast. Kimba loves to work and loves challenges so CCC was a perfect fit for her. Plenty of variety, working around the puzzles, running to solve the puzzles, go hunt, she was in her element. I was heart warming to see her transformation and how happy, willing and more trusting she became.
Our life together is so much more relaxed now, we are confident and able to go out and about in the world with the tools we need to handle difficult situations. We can be much closer to most dogs than ever before and “Go Hunt” has become our favorite game to play, particularly when we can’t get far enough away from a dog that Kimba finds difficult to ignore.
Most of all WE LIKE EACH OTHER, Kimba trusts me and we are able to enjoy daily life and activities without undue stress.
I am now teaching CCC and tell everyone about the huge difference it has made to our lives. I can’t thank Cindy (and Suzanne) enough.”
Ann & Kimba
Team Reznor’s Story
CCC impacts lives in many ways. Here's one way in which CCC has helped Team Reznor, described by his owner Lorene.
Before CCC: “Reznor would walk into the office waiting room in a panic and anxiety, rapid breathing, frantically looking around, pacing, walking in circles, unable to maintain a sit or down even with his favorite treats. Any odd sound coming from the office would trigger him into an even larger panic, him trying to pull me on the leash to get to the door. If another owner and their pet walked in he would be more interested in that situation than me, pulling on the leash trying to investigate them. When I was able to get a sit, he would try to get behind me, almost hiding himself away. The same would happen when we entered the actual exam room: pacing around the door to get out, not able to maintain a sit or down, with panic, anxiety and whimpering.”
After CCC: “From the moment we walk in Reznor is looking to me for guidance. With full eye contact he follows me into the office. Reznor and I are able to walk in, walk next to other people/pets without him really caring too much of his surroundings. A few glances to check out the area is all he needs now. Then he's right back with me in connection mode. The most amazing part is the moment I find us a spot in the waiting room. He goes right into Really Real Relaxation mode, full on eye contact without me even having to tell him! He is able to maintain this with all the background noise, people walking in and even people/pets walking past us. The most I get from him now is a bit of a neck turn, a reached out head to sniff the air, but that only last a few seconds and we are right back in connection. The best thing is he is making these choices himself from the very start. I'm feeding treats at the very minimal at this point, a few here and there. The wait can last almost up to 10-20 min in the waiting room, and I give roughly 5 treats or so. And it's really not even about the treats, because after a few minutes he's relaxing is head on the ground, calm breath, even closing his eyes a few times. He has even made the choice to lay on his side a few times, asking for a belly rub. This is also what we encounter in the exam room, with even more relaxation on his part. At times, depending on how long we wait in the exam room, he's actually fallen asleep he's so relaxed, regardless of what noises are going on in the background or people walking past the room door.
He is also able to maintain this once the tech or doctor walks in, as we discuss the situation and why we are there where before he would try to hide behind me or try to get out the room pulling at the end of the leash. All I have to say is it's nice to have a dog who's not in panic mode anymore, one who feels safe and knows what choices he needs to make or looks to me for that guidance. It's awesome to have this connection where he's more interested in what we are doing together other than the surroundings or trying to run out the office. This has also helped my levels of anxiety when taking him there. Now we are both relaxed and just enjoying each other's company the best we can in that situation.”
Lorene & Reznor
Team Kate’s Story
“Kate is a two-year old Aussie/Border Collie who came to me as a scared, under socialized farm dog. When she came home with me she was scared and submissively urinated a lot. I used CCC techniques from day one to build our relationship. At first, I had to do the CCC work off leash because she panicked on the leash. Teaching auto check in, she had a hard time looking me in the eye. Early on, she looked me in the eye, her pupils dilated, and she ran away in fear. From that starting point, Kate and I have progressed steadily. She walks on a loose leash. She no longer alarm-barks at people when we are walking on leash in public. She jumps with enthusiasm into the car and rides like a champ. She has accompanied us on two long trips to NE Pennsylvania on family visits. The first trip was only 2 weeks after she came to us. I was profoundly grateful when I took her out at a truck stop for a bathroom break and she walked around calmly in a curious state of mind and relieved herself. It seemed our relationship was already solid.
Although 6 weeks have passed since I got her, we are still working on the Level I course work. But the change in this dog has been rapid and always in the correct direction. The PPP and RLR have been helpful working on an ingrained door busting habit, and her tendency to anticipate everything. The RRR we use at work and in the evenings at home.
Yesterday I took her to a class to introduce her to my friends. She participated politely in class. She demonstrated good connection in a distracting new environment and demonstrated RRR. She tried hard and was calm. Your course was extremely helpful in this journey. Thank you.”
Jeanne & Kate
Team Rusty’s Story
“We adopted Rusty from a rescue organization when he was approximately a year old. It was easy to see he wasn’t all German Shepherd…our best guess, based on behavior, appearance and a Wisdom Panel DNA test, is that he’s mixed with Borzoi or Whippet or something along those lines. They couldn’t tell us much; they’d accepted him into rescue about two months before and put him in their overflow kennel instead of a foster home. He came to us advertised as “good with cats” (our orange tabby VEHEMENTLY disagrees) and with no comment regarding temperament, behavior, etc. I used my reporter’s training and traced him back to a small town in central Ohio, where he’d spent three months in a kill shelter before being adopted and vetted with the express intent to be surrendered to the rescue organization. So he’d spent about half his life before entering ours living in a shelter/kennel environment. He was very nervous, seemed to have been housebroken at some point, didn’t have any obedience training and, contrary to what we were told, definitely was not crate trained. He was also very underweight at 59 pounds (at age 4½, he is not overweight at 87 pounds).
In the 3½ years since Rusty joined our family, we have done numerous trainings with him. Rusty was a quick learner and picked up his basic obedience in nothing flat. When we first welcomed him into the family, he was able to go anywhere with anyone, had play dates with neighborhood dogs, etc. We noticed things changing as he got more nervous and started exhibiting a greater need to take charge in situations, even those involving household members! Never particularly fond of small children (and not exposed to them often), he became more reactive to them as well. This then extended to his interactions with other dogs, including ones he’d been friendly with and played with. We shrunk his world to maintain control, and tried a group class as a first step toward taking on agility, to give him a job, tire him out and focus him positively. He aced the class, losing a single point in a 90-point obedience trial on the last night, but failed overall by tangling with a classmate he’d worked next to for eight weeks! A vet tech whom both Rusty and I adore, had been suggesting CCC for many months; after that experience, I wanted to try a different approach with him.
I felt welcomed by CCC Instructors Cindy and Michele from the very beginning—starting with our evaluation with Cindy. She didn’t rush Rusty but noticed everything about him, including that he had trouble with eye contact and needed a bubble to feel safe. By the end of our initial meeting he was almost taking treats out of her hand, and his curiosity about this CCC place had been piqued. Mine, too. My favorite of all the wonderful quotes on the wall is the one about meeting the dog where he is at—and our classmates in Level 1 and Level 2 certainly witnessed that firsthand with Rusty. Every week, Michele built him a bubble out of plastic fencing. We started across the room from everyone else, and eventually “graduated” to the same side of the room, still with a bubble in front of the crate. Sometimes we erected barriers with blankets, if people or dogs worked too close to us. I am especially grateful to our classmates in the classes for their patience in helping my guy reach his potential. They were very caring and supportive.
Rusty is definitely more confident in his abilities, and definitely more connected—at least to me, and demonstrably so to our son as well. While Rusty doesn’t yet look to me for permission before every decision and in every situation, he is reliably coming when called, is seeking me out many times a day for attention and to make his needs known (potty break, dinner, etc.) but in a respectful, not obnoxious way. He makes eye contact! He loves to hear he is “so good!” He knows when the puzzle bag comes out he’s going to work, and he gives it his best effort! He will never be “good with cats,” but he and Cheddar are getting along better. We will never trust him completely around the 12-and-younger set, but using our new connection skills and “Go Hunt” we can take neighborhood walks and manage encounters with other dogs and the wee people. We are working on door skills and have found “Go Hunt” to be a great help. I have been lucky enough to share my life with seven dogs, including Rusty—and while he has been the most difficult, confounding and challenging of them all, it’s also been the most rewarding experience to see him relax and start to realize his full potential.”
Colleen & Rusty
Team Ellie’s Story
After repeated experiences with harsh punishment in the hands of two trainers, Ellie had already been labeled aggressive and was recommended for euthanasia by multiple professionals by the time she was only 12 weeks old, Thankfully Ellie found her forever person, Michelle, at 20 weeks of age. She was already a resource guarder and had zero trust in humans. It took two weeks of patient training for Ellie to feel comfortable with Michelle touching her for the first time. They’ve come a long way since then.
With three levels of CCC training under their belts and no formal Rally training Michelle recently entered Ellie in a local Rally trial. Michelle wanted to show how much connection matters in performance. And they certainly did. Team Ellie finished with two second places, with scores of 198 in both!
Michelle is super proud of all they’ve achieved together. She can’t wait to see what the future holds for her happy girl!
Michelle & Ellie
Calgary, Alberta, Canada