Nine years ago, I rescued Annie, a one year-old, very reactive German shepherd. My goal was to make her a ‘normal’ dog and thought this could be accomplished by attending a few training classes and giving her lots of love. Her issues were more serious than I first thought and it was soon obvious I was in over my head; dealing with this aggressive dog was frightening. I tried different trainers, worked with a behaviorist, met with an ethologist, but a year later, her behavior had gotten worse and she had become more aggressive, even to her family.
At this point I was very discouraged and was ready to give up, but another search for help led me to Dee. With Dee’s teachings and guidance, Annie and I began our journey together to change her behavior. I learned that success would depend on keeping Annie below threshold, so she could control her emotions. It takes years of hard work and commitment to change this type of behavior. The hardest part of all was accepting Annie for who she is; she will never be the ‘normal’ dog I wanted, but we now have a special bond created by the challenges we’ve faced together.
Walking with Annie is now enjoyable, she has learned to love people, she is extremely affectionate to her family members, has accepted two cats into the household, and can attend classes with other dogs present with some management, like using a crate for down time and working behind a barrier when necessary. Is our work done? Hardly – our journey continues, but now it is pleasurable and I’m better equipped to deal with the bumps in the road. I am proud of the progress Annie has made and I am grateful to Dee, who has guided us along the way. Without Dee’s help, I do not believe Annie would be with me today.
Diane and Annie
Jess wrote: “This post is in honor of Dee Ganley, who in 2004 or 2003 (can’t quite remember) came down to the Cape May County Animal Shelter and taught a workshop on positive reinforcement dog training. She altered my goals in dog training and in that same weekend I fell in love with my first ever Rottweiler. So much changed in my life that weekend, I am SO thankful to have had the opportunity to participate. Definitely a defining moment for my career and my life! Thank you Dee!”
August 1, 2014
From Rochelle Sanders
Dee, please feel free to post where ever you like. He has come so very far. From a dog that was going to be put down if we didn’t keep him (we were home # 8 when he was 10 months old) to where he is today. As I mentioned, he will always need management but we found something that he LOVES to do and can focus on that when we are out and about.
PREVIOUS: Good morning, Dee. Don’t know if you remember me and my bad boy, Cody. We met when you did a workshop at Sue Frisch’s in Pa years ago. I was watching your video of Dazzle and it brought back memories. I had made a martingale collar for her.
I want to let you know that nose work has opened doors for Cody. Even though he turned 10 this year, he earned his NW1 title in 2011, his NW2 title in 2013 and this past Memorial Day he earned all 4 of the new elements titles and is the first dog in the country to do so. Codes is a dog who will always need to be managed but it is so fascinating to watch him be able to tune out distractions when he is working. LOVE, LOVE nose work!
September 7, 2013
Thanks from the bottom of my heart for writing the book, Changing People Changing Dogs! It’s helped so much, and I haven’t even had the book for an entire week. Our dog Benny is a 22 month old mix. His DNA test came back as a mix of Brittany Spaniel and Border Collie but that was very diluted. I bought your book through doing an internet search. Loved the excerpts I could see and bought the book as fast as I could! The reason for the need is that Benny has become reactive to loose dogs on our walks. That being said he has shown resource guarding with our daughter’s Boston Terrier’s. He also been reactive when at the door and when he’s not getting attention from someone and the BT’s are getting attention. He has been socialized since we got him from Puppy Angel’s rescue at 8 weeks of age. He is still Ok with the neighbor’s pointer mix and he loves children and no longer jumps on them. My problem is that I am afraid, and I feel Benny can sense that. So, for now I am training, training, and training!
Benny has never shown aggression to people. He will bark at my husband and son who is 21 like he doesn’t recognize them but then is totally fine. He is fairly good with our mean cat and we had our son’s two kitten’s for the summer and he was good with them. They were dog savvy and would roll over for him. I know you can’t give me any advice because this issue is aggression. I really just wanted to say thank-you for writing this book. Since getting the book Benny is already looking up to me with more confidence. We have come a long with down stay on mat, and also the throw the treat and he has to stay. Today the cat ate the treat while he was on his mat. He was perfect. Benny is “MY” first dog at the age of 50. We have had 2 other dogs during our 31 year marriage, both were my husband’s. We had young children at the time, and we did little training. We got Benny after almost 2 years of no dog. We couldn’t love Benny any more and his recent reactive incidents have been devastating. My wish is that someday we will be able to take a class of yours. You are truly a rare find…
Diane Fisher ( and Benny )
PS We are even learning Fetch through the book very fast!!! Yummy high-value treats work!!!
who would have thought that a harness and hotdogs could work magic!!! I did what you suggested with the hotdogs. I have tried chicken pieces before but they never worked like hotdogs. We went to Stonecliff yesterday, Ella needed shots. There were 3 dogs in there. I made sure she knew I had hotdogs before we went in. We go in and she is paying more attention to me than anything else. We sat down and I gave her some hotdogs, had her sit first and look at me. If she stared at another dog, really when she first started looking I clicked she came she got a hotdog. She only did one little gruff. She was so calm! This morning on our walk there was a jogger coming toward us, I did the arc and stopped and had her look at me, when she sat and was looking at me – I gave her hotdog. I also put some cheerios in the bag so they would get the smell so to keep her attention after the jogger passed and we started walking I would click and she would at me and I would toss a treat on the ground and continue to walk. SIMPLY AMAZING!!!You need your own TV show.
Thanks again so much- I am still working on reading the rest of the pamphlet,
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday
I wanted to let you know that the tips that you gave us at the seminar are working with Codes. We have had no more episodes with aggression towards John. It took him a while (referring to the husband here) for him to get the fact that he needs to be consistent but he is coming along. And on one of our walks and swims at Beltzville state park, Codes was wonderful when we came in contact with a man running his two labs off lead. I decided against putting Codes on lead when we saw them as Codes does better meeting new dogs off lead. Everything went fine. That day he actually ran and swam with a pack of 8 dogs! 3 of those dogs were new to him. That’s a first for him and he handled it. I was so proud of him.
I am hoping that all is well with you and yours and wanted to thank you once again for the great tips that you gave us at the seminar. Cody is progressing slowly and that’s a heck of a lot better than back sliding! Rochelle and Cody
I just wanted to write and say hello, and thank you once again for the difference you have made for me and my dog Rudolph. A bit more than a year ago now, Rudolph and I took your ‘Reactive Dog’ seminar at It’s a Dog’s World in Maine. At the time, Rudolph was a volatile, unpredictable, sometimes scary dog that flew into a frenzied panic of barking/lunging/snarling/biting at the sight of another dog, or a stranger, any moving object, or pretty much any of life’s surprises. He didn’t do well with surprises at all then.
Your seminar gave us some tips and exercises, and those, combined with ALOT of work by myself and by Matt Mooers of Tuckered Out doggie daycare have given me today’s result …. a dog that is beautiful, sane, and that I know WITHOUT DOUBT that I can trust.
What prompts this note, specifically today? Well, this morning Rudolph and I were going for a walk down a street near my house. Seemingly out of nowhere, there came a charging angry, barking shih tzu, followed closely by three screaming pre-school age children. Seeing there was no way to avoid confrontation, I stopped and softly said “Rudolph, wait”. He stopped, stood still, and waited …. just like he has at possibly a thousand street crossings over the past year …. but this time we weren’t waiting for traffic to pass. This time, the shih tzu raced up between his legs … the children right behind it, scurrying and screaming and literally diving under my dog in an attempt to capture theirs.
A year ago, this sort of event would have prompted calls to an ambulance, and (no doubt) an attorney …. but today, Rudolph shifted his weight uneasily from side to side, he licked his lips in an obvious statement of “hey, I’m feeling stressed here”, and he looked at me to see what to do next. I kept a loose lead, and as softly as I could I said “Rudolph, wait. Just wait”. He stood still …. his back legs were starting to tremble with all the commotion, but he trusted me, and he didn’t move. The shih tzu was captured just as the children’s parent arrived, dividing her time between apologizing for the incident, and chastising the children. Even after they left and headed home, it was a minute or two before I was able to sigh and say “Rudolph, we did it! It’s ok pal, let’s go”, and we continued on.
These first two miles of our walk every day Rudolph is on a leash until we get to some logging trails where he can go free to chase chipmunks. We stayed a little longer in the woods today, I think he deserved to have some extra fun. So Dee, I just wanted you to know how things turned out for us …. if it wasn’t for you, and for Matt Mooers …. two people that I know to be nothing less than canine miracle workers, the story would have had an entirely different ending. Thanks again! P. Tate
Hey Dee – just a quick update on my reactive boy Guinness… We took him to his first Rally trial in two years on Friday. It was his first try at an advanced leg. He and Dover were both a bit squirrely/barky when we first got there, but G settled even faster than Dover, and by the time were ready to compete (a few hours later!) he was able to lay completely relaxed in the middle of everything with dogs walking by on all sides. Unfortunately, someone near the entrance to the ring was letting her dog sniff him just before we went in, which didn’t do much for his focus or concentration. (Grrr. L) He heeled really wide for the first three stations and then stopped for a looooonnnnngggg stress-scratch for an exercise that involved a front (something he stress-scratches for even in class – not sure why), followed by a looonnnnnggg look at the audience. After that though, once I got him going again, he seemed to clue-in to what we were doing and the rest of the run was respectable. In fact, he not only qualified he finished in second place with a 98 (same score as the first place dog, but 2 seconds slower – darn scratching! ;-). Although I was thrilled with his placement I was most thrilled with how well he handled the show and the new environment and the first time working off leash in public. We chose the venue very carefully – a small indoor trial at a hotel – and I’m glad we did. I think an outdoor show would have been a much larger challenge (way more sensory input!). We still have a long way to go working with his reactivity “out in the real world” but it’s night and day compared to a year ago! J We are keeping an eye out for your “Reactive Dogs part 2” seminar at it’s a dog’s world, and still hope to someday make it out your way for a “private”. I could still use some hints on taking him out and about, as well as helping him to learn better dog social skills. But we’re getting there! L. Cadieux, Rochester, NH
Nuala used her nose today to avert disaster! Skye was out back in the fenced area, and because Nuala had been out, too, and latches onto Skye’s collar, Skye’s collar was off. Steve noticed that Skye was gone, and the gate, which is hard to open but also hard to close, was open. He had been out skiing and came back through the gate earlier. He took off in the car, knowing that Skye’s tracks led up the driveway, and drove up a couple of side roads where we often walk.
I put Nuala on leash, took her to the open gate, and asked her to “Find Skye.” We’ve played “Find Dad,” “Find Mom,””Find the Treat,” “Find Ball,” but never “Find Skye.” Well, Nuala put her nose to the ground and led me up the driveway, across the road, up another road and into the driveway of the Indian Museum. We went down the driveway, Nuala’s nose to the ground the whole way, into the parking lot. Who should come out from behind a snow pile but Skye! She headed towards us, and I released Nuala, knowing that Skye would meet up with her and the two of them would start playing. They did just that, and I got a leash around Skye’s neck.
I’m so proud of Nuala! She never lifted her head after I gave her the “Find” command, just followed Skye’s tracks where they led her. And I’m impressed that she is able to generalize the “Find” command to anything for which she knows the name. E. Daigle
Elaine’s little dog (a Mini Schnauzer) Molly was barking at strangers and guests non stop plus pulling on the leash when walking and wasn’t getting enough good aerobic exercise here are her comments a few weeks after our consultation
Happy new year! It must be ESP because I was about to send you an email with an update. Molly LOVES the treadmill and goes on it several times a day for 15 minutes at a time (at a good pace). I don’t even need to keep a leach on her. She’s become a pro! And the daily exercise is certainly reflected in her behavior which is much improved.
My son was up over Christmas and she was pretty good while he was here, so things are looking up thanks to your guidance.
I’m finding also that when someone is outside working on the property (snowplowing & shoveling), she barks when they arrive, but as soon as I say “Thank you, now that’s enough” she calms down. I do find that the calmer I am, the calmer she becomes. So I guess this training has been good for both of us!
UPDATE January 20, 2010
Hi Dee. Just wanted to let you know things are going well with Molly. The other day I finally had a workman come to the house and as you suggested, I picked Molly up, put on her bark collar, grabbed the Kong toy out of the freezer, put her in my bedroom and put a gate across the door. Wow, that really works great. I didn’t hear one peep out of her and after the workman left and I went into the bedroom to get her, she seemed fairly calm (which is a huge step)! So that problem is resolved. I’m still working with her on calming down when someone is on the property or comes to the door. I think that will always be somewhat of a challenge given her anxious nature. However, she has improved and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve come up with a great stuffing for the Kong toy that Molly really loves. I cook up a box of cous cous (chicken flavored) and keep that in a container in the refrigerator. When the Kong toys needs refilling, I mix up some cous cous with about a tablespoon of chicken baby food and because it’s pasty, it binds the cous cous together very well. It works a lot better than using plain liquid. Hope you are enjoying the winter. Talk to you again soon. Elaine Clark
Karen and Remi (a 16 month German Shepard) who had been barking at the family members anytime they sat down to watch tv or to read… for 14 months.. She said they had tried everything.. squirt bottles , yelling, time outs, putting outside ….. plus jumping up and grabbing close when people came into the house family members too… Karen’s comments after three days from my visit to their home and meeting them and Remi ….
I am so glad I met you, just a quick update. Remi is doing very well. He has done well with the leash in the tv room. Last night he barked once and I did the stepping on the leash and that is all I had to do , and he went to sleep and did not bark at us when he got up. Same for the am , just once! When I came in to email you he just laid down and went to sleep. I hope this is a pattern! I love it. He actually did not jump on my son when he came downstairs!!! Big accomplishment.
I also went out and bought a kong, to sturdy ball with rope attached and a wonderful hard plastic ball with good size holes in it with a ball inside that he can not get out. He plays out side with it and it gets batted around the yard and keeps him busy for 15 mins! He still needs work on his excitement but that is going well also. I will write you in a week. Have a great new year!
Marie-France Langlois to Dee Ganley – March 17th 2009 – Self Control Workshop
When I translated some of your material, things started to come together for me and when I saw you doors seem to open in my mind.. Because you show, but more than that you say why it works, what the purpose is, because it does not seem to be disconnected, let me see if I can express what I really mean:
First I think that YOU start with the absolutely most important thing for our dogs and all dogs, self-control. To me this is absolutely brilliant. It makes sense and you put words on what I had been looking for since the day I realized that Daisy the wheaten needed some kind of help and it was not about obedience. It was about being able to get her “equipped ” with certain skills enabling her to cope, which is what your self-control exercises do as well, and more not only do they learn how to cope but they learn how to control themselves !
So this weekend I felt such a great relief because I have finally found what I had been looking for and you were able to put words on it that made sense to me and to us all. A person next to me said AH ! I will introduce this in my class …I was looking for a way to do that to get the results of that without any constraint…now I have found it…( go to your mat exercise )( safe place and how to get the dog there…) in just a few minutes with you.
The other part that I really think is making sense to me is that you are able to say why you want your dogs to do this or that, a lot of trainers don’t get to where I need to go to find myself “engaged” as well, my way of learning is not global ( I recognized parts of myself when I read Temple Grandin Animals in translation.) Once I got it alI I have no problem with the global picture, and can be miles ahead of some people although it took me longer to get there, when I am learning I need the tiny dots connected and to that level.
That is what you were able to do for me. With your walking on leash exercise now I have all the dots connected and I will be able to remember and do it well because I understand why first, and how second…and you do break the behaviour into small increments…this too helps. The get behind exercise, the one where we rub our dog, how good this would have been to know and to do years ago with the wheaten…I followed TTouch workshop ( a few weeks and they came to my house to work with my dogs) I am a certified Massage Practitioner for dogs and cats, I did obedience training, r+ type of training, all kinds of things where there always were something missing for me, I could not get the whole picture. Because of all these tiny parts missing. And while watching you I was thinking: “my …this would be someone I would really love to learn from and work with for my own advancement.( I don’t teach classes , I did while working professionally in management and human resources so you see this is quite different) Just for my own learning. But I did do volunteer work with shelters and this would be sooooooo useful…
I was awed and my neighbour was as well to see the dogs in the middle of the room all quietly lying on their mat, after just five minutes at the most and quite happy to be there, without any constraint and working in a way that builds the relationship between dogs and persons…
I was awed and to me you are the most talented educator in canine things that I have ever encountered …and let me tell you that I have seen many..but your way connected with my mind! My way of learning. And I suspect with the minds of most people there.
What else to say : If you ever come back around here to teach a seminar I will be there, for sure, for the sake of my future dogs and my present dogs, (they are getting on with age the lab mix is aging rapidly 9 years old and he is a stressed dog, and the wheaten will be 11 this year. Quite a few friends have told me that with someone else Daisy would be dead. Maybe, with certain types of people she would not have made it. But maybe she would have been happier also and this breaks my heart. And I saw that possibility this weekend when I saw you, when I translated your material also. I saw the possibility that the exercises you demonstrated would have helped her so tremendously. She is a very reactive dog, very stressed, with not a high degree of capacity to adapt to new things or environment, I love her to pieces but she might have been so much happier with someone else.
Daisy was my “dream dog” my very first dog and nothing will ever happen to her as long as I live, but she would not be an easy dog to put in a family. And I don’t want this for my dogs. I want them to be happy and to be easily adopted if something happened to me.
You probably are tired of reading all this but I had such a huge feeling of “THIS IS IT! I FINALLY FOUND WHAT I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR, for so long…
I am passionate about animals not just dogs, I had birds, I have two cats and another one who died years ago and they were perfect, but dogs I wished to live with some for so long…and the relationships with them I want to be joyful, based on patience and respect, which they grant us so much more than we do at times as a species…
If you have read until this point I want to thank you. I will study your book (I do a lot of that watch videos and read on animal behaviour, and if I have questions I will ask. And I will check in case you come to offer a seminar as I will not miss that.
Thanks a lot again. Thank you, Thank you.
Meet Sky and Tiko.(german shep)..Sky,,(Border collie) WAS ONCE where training was concerned, Completely Shut Down,,and where other dogs were concerned Full of Fear and very reactive. Tiko, had 5 homes before Emelda found him. He is a teddy bear with people including children, but when it came to dogs, even the clinking of a dog tag would send him into frenzied barking..He was unable to be off lead near other dogs even ones he knew, because he is unable to play without downing the dog, his idea of play is to force the other dog down with his huge head. As you can see from the photos, Sky and Tiko are able to be off lead, in very close proximity, Tiko seems infatuated with Sky and she seems to enjoy flirting and manipulating him. We took the two dogs to a popular Country Park and walked them both past dogs and their people, with wonderful results and no incidents from either of them…What a result!
Thought you would like to see this photo (above), two dogs who were once so miserable to be near other dogs…I think we can safely say that these two dogs are extremely happy to be close to each other…in fact, Tiko appears to adore Sky and Sky manipulates Tiko just as she has always tried to manipulate me..(G) her latest game is to drop her ball, and wait for Tiko to run back,,pick her ball up to what appears to be him showing her your ball is here..then he stands to the side and allows her to collect the ball..he won’t move until she has gone back and collected it..
Subject: A little update on Tiko and Sky
Thought I would let you know about Emelda and Tiko and myself and Sky’s visit last week to an extremely busy Clumber Park. Clumber Park is a huge country estate, with a Cafe, with an outdoor area where all the dogs take their people to give them a rest and a refreshment break. The forest is all around (part of Sherwood Forest) Everyone goes there for a day out, and its a great place to go to see other dogs (but you have to know what you are doing if you have reactive dogs). We had a brilliant day there last week. We began our day with a half hour run off lead through the forest, then a little break and then we went for it..Tiko was brilliant and Sky was good as well… but I did let her down..we walked past one lovely little dog sitting outside the toilets,,(Sky was behind me) then walked past a lovely quiet Red Setter sitting in the middle of the pathway,,no reaction from Sky, none from Tiko..I took two paces past..and said..oh Good Girl,,at which point,,Sky Whipped round and snapped at the Red Setter…another lesson learnt..no need to praise her Shirley (even if you were pleased and excited by how great she had been) it should be an absolutely, no problem, normal thing to just pass quietly past a dog…but apart from this one slip up on my part..both dogs were brilliant..and our reward to them both was a lovely rest..in the forest clearing,,a cup of coffee for us and time for us to discuss how well they had both done, and what a disastrous mistake I had made in praising Sky..and then off into the forest again for some sniffing, What a lovely day..
Thank you SO much. Our lives are different already. I knew I was “creating a monster”……..and I love having these tools. Our long morning walk this morning was so pleasurable – I am loving her being responsive to me, and she seems to be enjoying it too. We are both calmer and happier!
Thank you again for your clear and calm understanding and teaching,
Sarah had called me and was concerned about her dog Fig who had lost his ability to settle and was just constantly up and moving around. They had brought a new puppy into his life and now believed he needed keep entertain and watch over his extended family. Life was getting unsettled for the humans now too.
SO the simple solution of separating the dogs when getting out OF control and simply limiting their options since neither dog was crate trained tethering them was the best solution.
Three days after the phone consult Sarah writes …(below)
Thanks so much for the phone consultation the other night. let me say how much BETTER life is with my little Fig dog! i simply did not recognized that he was slowly getting the upper hand by having too much freedom – in fact i was doing the opposite of what needed to get done. now i keep a leash handy in each room and if he and Leon (the little guy) get out of hand at all I leash the two of them, tie them to the coffee table (or just step on the lead) and wait until both have settled and relaxed before praising and letting them loose again! WOW – it has taken only two days for Fig to get the idea. as a matter of fact, i think he likes it when i take control of the situation and help him settle down. THANK YOU!
Also, i took your advice on the 50 foot tag line when we go walking. this is basically fixing his “leave it” (which was quite good to start but became a bit lax when i could not reinforce it) and he is getting the idea of “not to far” to mean slow down you are reaching the end of your lead and need to stay close to me. (i had to chose a different word because i have been using “easy” to mean – don’t bite too hard when we play, don’t chew on the cat too hard, etc) I have also started using the long line when ever we are out in the yard for bathroom time. Fig has a terrible habit of eating his own feces??? but this way i can say leave it and reinforce when he cooperates and leave it alone.
OK – thanks again Dee – you know in several months i may have to call for kid training advice!!!
Shirley has been emailing back and forth to me for about 6 months with sever issues with her BC Sky lunging and barking and twirling at cars passing by. Shirley has had dog for a while and Sky is her second BC . She recently emailed me with this happy greeting
Have just walked Sky 800 yds down high street, there and back with oncoming traffic NO SPINS, NO LUNGES THANK YOU DEE, What would I have done without your patience.
I won’t get too cocky, and will definitely not push it too far, don’t want to go back in that boring car park.
“Although my Collie was really well socialized and habituated right from puppy hood. She had always chased cars and was very reactive to dogs. I had consulted several behaviorists but nothing seemed to work. After a major operation her reaction to other dogs worsened and she was still “chasing cars”.
Then I was fortunate enough to meet Dee. She gave me easy to understand advice; I began to understand what my collie was telling me. I stopped giving her worrying body language and stopped reinforcing her fear related behavior and we started to really communicate with each other. Dee simply said to start looking closely at Sky’s body too see what she was telling me.
Then to start reinforcing for quiet calm behavior.
Working at a distance where she could give me these behaviors.
We have some way to go but she no longer spins like a top when she sees traffic and I never put her into a position that is too scary for her to cope with. We trust each other and I will always be grateful to Dee for showing me how to understand and work WITH my lovely intelligent collie.