Dog that used to be scared of the wind is now helping his owner with canine coaching
A dog that was once so terrified of anything that moved that his owner feared it might be kinder to put him down is now helping other animals get over their problems.
German Shepherd Olla would get so easily frightened that the sound of running water, the wind in the trees and even litter bins would make him howl in terror.
However, since the three-year-old dog was taken in by dog behaviour consultant Shaun Hesmondhalgh, he has put his past behind him and now can even help his owner work with other dogs.
Olla was originally housed as a puppy with his brother from the same litter, but the family who owned the dogs were unable to control them.
Mr Hesmondhalgh, 43, of Bolton, Lancashire, said: ‘When you home two dogs from the same litter together, they can become out of control, and this is what happened with Olla and his brother Beau.
‘They were like two adolescent young males who were throwing their weight around.
‘They had to be separated as they were totally out of control.’
Mr Hesmondhalgh came across Olla when he was looking for a dog to be part of his new business, The Way of the Dog, but soon realised he may have bitten off more than he could chew with the then two-year-old.
He said: ‘He came to live with me and my wife Wendy and he was incredibly nervous and frightened.
‘It soon became clear how much damage had been done by him relying on his brother so heavily.
‘He couldn’t make sense of the world around him because Beau had made all the decisions and he was used to following.
‘He had to become responsible for his own actions, but he hadn’t developed as a full adult dog and had a real dysfunctional development.’
Mr Hesmondhalgh, who served nearly 25 years as a dog trainer in the Royal Air Force, found that Olla was unable to cope with new experiences.
‘He would walk along with his belly on the floor in fear of what he might come across,’ said Mr Hesmondhalgh.
‘He didn’t have any confidence and I was new so he didn’t know who I was.
‘Supermarket shopping trolleys, running water, and even litter bins would spook him – they were all alien concepts. The wind in the trees would make his head spin.
‘He would just let out a high pitched scream and refuse to move. It was a clear sign of a dog showing that he was terrified.
‘It was really difficult showing him that everything was OK and he wasn’t going to be attacked.’
Mr Hesmondhalgh, who specialises in dog behaviour, set about a strict training regime, in which he said ‘patience, persistence, and being calm’ were key.
But months after rehoming Olla, Mr Hesmondhalgh began to worry that it was cruel to keep putting him through the daily stress.
He said: ‘About four months after I’d taken him in I was thinking should he go or should he stay.
‘I was struggling to know what to do with a dog that couldn’t cope with life. But I just had to find the key to the door, and the hard work has really paid off.
‘The defining moment was when I had to physically restrain a dog that was trying to bite him. I stopped him from coming to any harm and I think that’s when we really turned a corner.
‘He has been able to build trust in me in time, and he now knows he’s safe in my care and can make his own decisions.’
Now, 18 months on, Olla joins Mr Hesmondhalgh in his daily work helping other dogs who need help with their development.
Mr Hesmonhalgh said: ‘Now he’s a totally different dog. He’s ready to meet people and he will walk down the street no problem.
‘For a dog who was terrified to walk across a stream, he’s now amazing and will run and jump through the water. He loves it.
‘I have been able to see the self esteem growing and I do believe that he shows physical pride and sticks his chest out.
‘He wants to know that he has done well, and he really needs that support.
‘He’s turned into a really happy and relaxed dog and he’s now a partner in the business and helps me work with other dogs, who have their own set of problems.’
Mr Hesmonhalgh is also a member of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, a committee member of the British Police and Services Canine Association and is working towards accreditation with the Kennel Club Accredited Instructors Scheme.
In his 24 years in the RAF Police, he trained dogs for a variety of purposes, from counter terrorism and force protection to competition, winning awards at a national and international level.
He added: ‘It takes a lifetime to train a dog.
‘I will have to manage Olla’s emotions for the rest of his life now but it’s about making sure he’s as safe as he can be and he has as many pleasurable experiences as possible.’
~Via Daily Mail