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Ask Your Pet

by Jennifer Dickman

Dear Jennifer,

I’m a dog trainer, and adopted Quint from a client six after he snapped at their baby. I believe we’re his fourth home. We’re thinking about finding another home for him.We love him and he’s well-behaved in most respects. Then there is part of him that’s fearful, reactive, and mistrustful. He snaps/bites with no warning, dogs and people. He’s skittish of shovels, mops, long-handled tools. Children scare him. He’s petrified of loud noises.


Dear Priscilla,

The first thing Quint told me is that he feels misunderstood. The second thing was that he is afraid all the time. It’s like a constant underlying anxiety or watchfulness.

Unfortunately, Quint was never with anyone who could handle him properly before you. In his first home he began to have some “acting out” behaviors that mainly had to do with being a puppy and living with a family that didn’t understand his breed. They made the decision to give him up, and he was adopted by someone else. He’s showing me a lanky male who was abusive, both physically and verbally. In this home, Quint learned to be afraid and on alert all the time.

Quint says he was rescued from the abuse by a female. But, he has never fully recovered from the experience. He’s always in a state of hyper-alertness to some degree, always expecting danger. He knows intellectually that he’s safe with you, but at an instinctive level danger is everywhere. That’s why he’s easily triggered and has fear aggression.

Quint feels terrible when he bites someone, but he’s not able to control this behavior. I wouldn’t bring him around strangers, children, or other animals without having him muzzled for now. However, now that you understand the cause of his behaviors, there are things you can do to help him. First, since you’re a trainer, just have an awareness when working with Quint that he’s been abused. Use only positive reinforcement. Visualize the behaviors you’d like to see, rather than worrying about behaviors you don’t want. 

Anything unexpected, new, or unfamiliar will be a likely trigger. So, always have an awareness of this and plan accordingly. Explain what’s going to happen and emit feelings of calm, security, and love while doing so. Quint won’t understand most of your words, but will understand your meaning from your feelings and the images in your mind. 

There are a few flower essence formulas from www.Green HopeEssences.com that should help: “Anxiety”, “Abandonment and Abuse”, and “Outburst”. 

Quint needs patience and love. Again, be careful when he’s around other people or animals. Keep in mind that there are times when he can’t control his behavior. Triggers can always happen, even with animals who have made great progress. Your experience as a trainer will help immensely. Combined with my recommendations, I think if you employ the techniques you already know you can enjoy Quint’s company while keeping others safe and attaining some peace of mind for him.

Many Blessings, 
Jennifer Dickman

Jennifer Dickman is an Animal Communicator, Reiki Master-Teacher specializing in Animal Reiki, and Intuitive Counselor. She conducts phone and email sessions worldwide. She may be contacted at Jennifer_Dickman@ymail.com, 215-817-0833, or through her website, www.JenniferDickman.com, where her MP3s “Journey to Contact Your Animals in Spirit” and “Deep Relaxation” are also for sale. To subscribe to Jennifer’s newsletter and receive a freecopy of her essay, “Five Things Your Cat or Dog Wants You to Know”, please email Jennifer with the word “Newsletter” in the subject line.

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