Nicky & Charlie 

"Adopting Charlie and consistently working with him has not only taught me a lot but has inspired me to create Wilke Walks, the only dog walking company on the North Shore solely dedicated to private & tailored walks for other reactive  & misunderstood dogs just like him!  "

I adopted my sweet SPCA rescue dog named Charlie in December, 2015. He’s an energetic three year old husky/lab mix and my partner in crime. With all my previous years of dog walking/sitting experience, I was certain I knew everything there was to know about dogs. Soon after adopting Charlie I realized I had a lot to learn. 

Adopted at one and a half years old Charlie had zero socialization skills with other dogs and absolutely no training. Just going for a simple walk around the neighbourhood was beyond frustrating and at times scary. I had been pulled to the ground on multiple occasions from his outburst of uncontrollable barking and lunging. During our walks I became paranoid and full of anxiety at the thought of running across a dog, squirrel or anything that moved too quickly.  


It felt like the dream and vision I had for myself and this sweet dog was suddenly an unrealistic fantasy. I had envisioned taking my dog on off leash hikes alongside other dogs like I had done for so many other families over the years. It was heartbreaking because I wanted to give him the best life and to have the opportunity to experience as much as possible after spending the first part of his life confined and neglected. I came to the sad conclusion that this reactive behaviour was not going away anytime soon. 

Thankfully I found a highly educated and dedicated trainer (Renée Erdman, owner of Bravo Dog Training & Behavior Consulting) who shared with us the knowledge Charlie and I so desperately needed. With Renée's guidance, Charlie and I were able to see real results using force-free science-based training! I discovered that letting go of all my expectations and allowing Charlie to explore his new world at his own pace was what he needed. I learned to tailor each walking experience around Charlie and how to avoid high stress situations. Our training was no longer about an idea I had created in my mind for our lives or how he should behave at all times under any circumstance. It was about patience, consistency, and taking small steps forward not leaps.

 

Charlie has made huge improvements from when I first adopted him. We are now able to walk past dogs with little to no reaction. He is now able to make dog friends with a parallel walk and slow introduction.

We still have a long way to go and I've accepted the fact that we may never get to a place where Charlie is completely relaxed around other dogs but I feel far more calm and confident during our walks. I'm not only hopeful but excited about our future training goals. 


Teaching Charlie to think about a desired behaviour instead of negatively correcting an undesirable one has been life changing for both of us. I am happy to share my experience with others who may be going through a similar scenario and offer support as I know how isolating and overwhelming it can be without the right information or tools.  


I've experienced first-hand how frustrating it can feel living with a reactive dog but there is always hope and there will always be TREATS! When in doubt, Eat. Play. Love! 


"POSITIVE TRAINING puts the emphasis on TEACHING DOGS what to do, not continually punishing a dog for not doing ​what we want."

- Victoria Stilwell