Dogs with Anxiety - Can you train it out of them? - Long
So this is my story to date: Willow is a rescue (parents unknown to me) and is about 19 months old now but I have had her since she was a pup. She has been to numerous classes throughout her life, puppy, basic, advanced, CGC, etc, etc. She is a very good dog in class and around the house, however, when she gets outside she is what I call hyperaware and I just realized a little fearful and anxious. Because of this when she is out on walks she barks at other dogs that are on leash and behind fences.
The school we attended used corrections and when she was about 8 months old we started using a prong. While the prong worked to help her heel a bit better it never worked to “correct” the behavior or the barking.
About six weeks ago I consulted with a private trainer about Willow and she did an evaluation on her. She is a trainer that is mostly positive but she can and will use different methods depending on the issue to be solved. She told me about the slight anxiety that she was seeing so she put us on a positive training program. We have started working with a Thundershirt (pressure wrap to relieve anxiety) when Willow is out and she showed me some exercises from the book Control Unleashed which we have been working on and practicing for a few weeks. According to the trainer, using these methods should boost Willows confidence and trust in me as the handler.
So, to get to the point of my post, I have been wondering lately if this is going to be how she is for the rest of her life? I am soliciting other people's success or current stories and/or any other training methods that might work. With the training we are doing, do you think it is possible to get to a point where we can take a walk down the street and her not bark at other dogs walking down the street? Is it possible to "train" anxiety out of a dog?
Please know that if this is an issue her whole life I will deal with it. This is in no way a post saying I am giving up.
And my Girls.....
Dallas - ACD mix, 11 yrs
Willow - GSD, 5 yrs, CGC