“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”
Jelly Bean's Journey
We cannot say how much respect we have for rescue organizations, especially Detroit Pit Crew Dog Rescue. They reached out to K9 Heights for some help with Jelly Bean (J.B.), a dog they had found with an embedded collar and who hadn't socialized with humans or other dogs. This guy was afraid of his own shadow, but he's got his confidence back and has transformed into a whole a new dog.
Crate: A Safe Space
If left up to him, he would have stayed in his crate his entire stay with us, but between cleaning out his neck wound, and earning his trust with food he eventually started to open up. Are you curious about how to introduce a dog into your home? We'll give a short explanation, but J.B.'s journey was in multiple stages. If you'd like to learn more about the introduction stage check out our article on Bringing a New Dog Into Your Home .
The Buddy System
With unsocialized dogs exposure is important, but we don't want to flood them and overwhelm them. It's a balancing act. We started off with putting Jelly Bean's crate in a central location in the house. Like any of the dogs that come to stay with us at K9 Heights, once you're part of the K9 Heights family, you're part of it. If J.B. had a choice he'd have nothing to do with us. By locating his crate where it was, it was a way of introducing him to people and dogs. We used the buddy system including him in the comings and goings, getting exposure to novel stimuli but not overwhelmed.
Eventually, if he liked it or not, Jelly Bean had to leave the crate in order for us to treat his neck. Between treating his neck wound and getting him used to proper grooming he began to get accustomed to us. It took a while for J.B. to become trusting enough to take food from people, so we took baby steps, simply being there with Jelly Bean and earning his trust.
K9 Height's very own rescue pup, resident diva and Queen Bee, Miss Roxy really helped J.B. come out of his shell. We worked on name recognition and hand feeding Jelly Bean each meal. In the beginning, Eric often sat on the living room floor with Roxy and J.B., working on eye focus and the pups earning their dinner (Roxy liked to show J.B. how it was done). Jelly Bean eventually started taking food and treats from other K9 Heights Trainers as well.
Healing through Heeling
Utilizing Fundamental Obedience
It took a while for J.B. to want to offer any behaviors for foods or treats. He was still shy. However we started small with rewarding any movement in the right direction. It started with treating Jelly Bean for any step forward when he responded to leash pressure, and grew from there. Again Roxy showed J.B. the ropes of using the place board and learning downs, and J.B. was off like a bullet.
Obedience Skills Worked On
The more he learned, the more he opened up personality wise. He was getting bolder and bolder, and loving life more and more. With the confidence, came boldness, and the boldness show us we had a sheninstigator (AKA a Shenanigan Instigator).
Building Confidence through Guidance & Meaningful Corrections
We communicate what we want our dogs to do by our expectations, by offering praises for behaviors that are right, and correcting undesired behaviors. It took 3 weeks until J.B.'s neck healed and it still won't be able to tolerate much as far as leash corrections. So instead of working him in a harness for the rest of his life, we introduced the e-collar. There's a fine balance between fearful and aggressive dogs and you want to set your dog up for success. If you're wondering why chose to utilize this tool with a fearful dog instead of a harness, where the restraint of a harness can encourage a dog to pull promoting aggressive behavior, read our article on harnesses and aggression.
The E-collar was introduced after learning 5 fundamental skills necessary in order to properly utilize an e collar. This allowed us to give meaningful corrections at the lowest possible level, allowing Jelly Bean's neck to heal further, and us to give him valuable feedback about what we wanted to do.
Photo Credit: Detroit Pit Crew
Eric Allport of K9 Heights and Theresa Sumpter of Detroit Pit Crew after they finalized J.B.'s adoption paperwork.
Who Rescued Who?
Sometimes the dog chooses us when we aren't looking, when we least expect it, they weasel their way into our hearts and homes and you'll never be the same.
That's how it is with Jelly Bean. Thank you Detroit Pit Crew for saving this guy, and for including K9 Heights as part of his story. Like all our program dogs, we welcomed him into the K9 Heights Family immediately, but yesterday it was official. Welcome to your Forever Home, J.B.!! Now who's telling Roxy she's getting a little brother, because this guy's here to stay.