Hi there, I’m Andrea, the human behind Best Life Dog Training. I’m happy to have you here!
Welcome to my blog where I focus on all things reactivity, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. If you want a deeper understanding of your dog and what you can do to overcome undesirable behaviors like lunging on a leash, barking out the window, or jumping or growling at guests, then you are in the right place. I get into the science of dog behavior, body language, learning theory, behavior modification, and a little bit of genetics all for the purpose of improving the lives of reactive dogs and their guardians.
Working with guardians whose dogs are struggling with reactivity, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity is my passion. These dogs are often misunderstood. They are struggling to cope in our human world and need the help of a patient and educated guardian to overcome their emotions.
While I had worked with numerous clients with reactive dogs, it was not until April of 2020 that I lived with one. I understand firsthand what it’s like to just white-knuckle it through a walk, a car ride, a visitor, and even just an ordinary day.
My husband and I adopted Rosie early in the pandemic (like many people around that time). We had 2 dogs at the time. Maggie was our senior labradoodle (15 years old at the time) and Tres is our mini-Schnauzer mix and he was 5-6 years old at that point. I did not realize Rosie was reactive initially. I knew she was high-energy, did not have bite-tolerance (she play-bit REALLY hard), was unsure of small dogs, and may have slept in a car a few nights (due to her original family not being able to find pet-friendly housing). It’ll be fine, I told myself. I’m a dog training. We’ll get on a plan right away, and everything will be great!
The first day we brought Rosie home, she jumped so high she nipped me on the back of the head while I was standing up. She used our bodies like her personal springboards, she lunged at every dog, person, child, and thing “out of place” on walks, she reacted to every person that came into our yard, she barked at all the sounds, and she paced and whined on car rides. Every time I walked across the shared yard to the laundry room, she would nip at my arms and ankles. There was a two-story apartment building and the staircase overlooked our backyard. Rosie would jump/climb/scale our fence trying to get to people on the staircase. It was overwhelming and incredibly stressful. It’s like she was never relaxed, she was always on and ready to go.
I’m thankful to say we’ve come a long way since then! Rosie still has her moments but her leash and noise reactivity are much improved, she is more relaxed around guests, and can lay down and relax during car rides. Oh, and the nipping/play-biting is a thing of the past – we addressed that first! We are not perfect, but we are improving over time. And our relationship is MUCH better now than it was then.
I’m telling you all this because I know how overwhelming it can be living with a reactive dog. You may be wondering if things will ever improve. It takes time, yes. But when you address behavior issues keeping the dog’s AND your own well-being in mind, things happen. You will become the expert on your dog and know what to do to address behavioral issues and see true, positive changes. All while building trust and a closer bond between the two of you.
I believe that addressing the human end of the leash, *YOU*, is of utmost importance. You are the most important piece of your dog’s reactivity recovery journey. While I strive to educate people on how a dog’s emotions impact their behavior, I also understand that your dog’s behavior can impact your emotions.
Think back to why you got a dog. Companionship, couch snuggles, exercise buddy. Perhaps you wanted to teach your dog fun tricks or take them hiking with friends. But instead, you feel like you are grieving for the dog you secretly wish you had. If you have a dog with behavior issues, you may have some emotions come up that you were not expecting. Embarrassment, guilt, disappointment, frustration, overwhelm, isolation, and maybe even hopelessness.
It’s OK to have these feelings. You are human. But I don’t want you to get stuck there. And I want you to know a better life is possible. Maybe not the one you originally imagined, but different and somehow, better.
My commitment to you is to share science-based, up-to-date, ethical, and humane training and behavior modification information to help your dog overcome their behavior struggles. Reactive dogs need us. They need understanding, educated humans with a plan. I love working with guardians to give them that plan.
I’m so happy you’re here. Leave me a comment and let me know your dog’s name and where in the world you call home.
Thanks for being here.
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