Elizabeth, Garrett, & Baxter
Before Andrew came to visit, Baxter had severe separation anxiety. We had him for about a month before we called Andrew. In that time, Baxter could not be in a different room without us. Crate training was an absolute disaster. He was terrified of his crate and would do anything trying to escape. This resulted in physical injury to Baxter’s paws, mouth and snout, and property damage to our walls and floors surrounding the crate. He tore apart two plastic “indestructible” liners before we replaced his cage liner with ¾ in plywood. He tore through three of those, bent his cage to the point of having to be held together by zip ties, scratched the walls near his cage and chewed through the carpet and everything below it to the cement slab. He also barked, whined and cried the entire time he couldn’t see us. This all happened within minutes of us leaving his site, even if we were in the house. Thunder shirts, treats, toys, clothes or blankets that smelled like us, or anything else didn’t alleviate his stress and anxiety.
When we let him roam free in the house with our other dog while we were away, he tore apart our back door blinds, office/front room blinds, chewed whatever he could reach, destroyed our entry way decorations, barked and yelped, scratched at the doors and walls, and used the house as his restroom. Some of it was acting out in anger and nervousness. Other parts of the behavior were attempts to get out of his larger “cage” to get to us. Again, this all started within minutes, sometimes seconds, of us being out of the house.
We started separation training research online, speaking to professionals and working with our vet to get things worked out immediately after we adopted Baxter. Nothing was successful. I spent the week before Andrew arrived home from work solely working on desensitization training and command training. This was resulting in minimal and slow changes.
Andrew visited May 1. Since then, we have seen a complete 180 in Baxter. By using the recommended tools and communication techniques, we can now leave Baxter to roam free in the house with our other dog while we are gone for up to 10 hours with no issues at all. He has not had a single accident in the house since Andrew’s visit and has not caused any damage to anything while we are out. Baxter will also go into his cage with and without commands, and follows us around the house much less when we are home. He is much less terrified of his cage, and is starting to see it as a safe place and place for praise/treats. We no longer have to fight Baxter to get in or out of the house from our front doors. It is such a nice change.
"When we called Andrew to come help us, we were on the verge of returning Baxter to the Humane Society because we couldn’t prevent him from hurting himself and couldn’t alleviate his mental anguish. Thankfully, because of Andrew, that will never be an option we have to entertain again. "
We have also learned to communicate better with Baxter without just relying on commands and have seen a HUGE change in his responses to our words/actions. He is much more relaxed with us and isn’t constantly looking to us for cues anymore. With his nervousness and dependency going away, we are starting to see Baxter’s very happy and playful personality shine through. He flinches less when sudden movements happen around him. He warms up to new and familiar people very quickly. He also looks to our other dog for entertainment or creates his own entertainment instead of constantly relying on us to engage him.
When we called Andrew to come help us, we were on the verge of returning Baxter to the Humane Society because we couldn’t prevent him from hurting himself and couldn’t alleviate his mental anguish. Vet bills and home repair bills were piling up to the point of being near unmanageable. Now, we constantly get compliments on how well-behaved, healthy and happy both of our dogs appear. Baxter has truly adjusted to our family, and we can’t imagine our lives without him. Thankfully, because of Andrew, that will never be an option we have to entertain again.
I fully contribute Baxter’s change to Andrew’s techniques and training tools he used. We have been able to continue exactly what he showed us, and have been able to accomplish this huge change in such a short amount of time with no follow up visits. I definitely plan on using Andrew in the future for any further training needs. I also recommend him to anyone and everyone. He was able to do in a single visit what we, “experts,” and our vet were unable to do for a month.