Our story is a bit of a rocky one. Don't worry though, there's a happy ending, all thanks to Justin :D
Seriously, call him ASAP if you need help overcoming any dog issues - no matter how major the issue seems, there is hope! He's a wonderful, gentle dog behaviorist and an AMAZING human trainer (which is what a lot of dog training is really about). I recommend Bark Busters to everyone; my dog's total 180 speaks for itself.
Here's my full (long!) story, with the hope that it might help people feeling trapped or hopeless about their dog's behavior/potential:
I adopted a 2-year-old chug (chihuahua/pug mix) from a rescue group. I'm not sure what the story was with his first owner or if he was ever abused, but he definitely wasn't properly socialized. He ended up dumped at a high-kill shelter (72-hours til euthanasia). A rescue group pulled him from death row with hours to spare, and he went to live with a foster family until I met him.
I saw so much potential in him, past the moments of fearfulness (could you blame him for not knowing who to trust?). I could tell that he was smart, motivated to please people, totally wanted to love but was just insecure about his place in the world. He came home with me, because I thought he deserved a real shot at becoming a confident, happy guy. I named him Prince, because I saw the prince charming behind the sometimes growly beast (plus all his stuff was purple).
In the first week, while Prince quickly got comfortable with me, he got worse around just about everything/everyone else. Separation anxiety issues (wanted to be glued to me, cried if left alone) and MAJOR issues with socialization and trusting people: bearing teeth/growling/snarling at strangers (sometimes other dogs but always people), wasn't a fan of anyone but me, definitely didn't want to be petted by anyone else, and would snarl at even me if I got too close to him when he had a chew bone. I couldn't sit with him at a coffee shop patio or he would turn into an unmanageable gremlin.
I've had dogs before so I started crate training for the separation. I have never dealt with fear-aggression though, so I thought it would be worth the money to work with a professional behaviorist. The first time I met with Justin I got a GREAT feeling. I saw that he was fantastic: friendly, easy to work with, gentle but firm, and really knew dogs and loved to help people. Prince snarled at him from under the coffee table, but I'd come to expect that and Justin obviously wasn't fazed. We were on track.
But then another week went by, and I was at my breaking point with Prince. I work from home (which can feel isolating on it's own) but now I had this creature forcing me into total solitary confinement! I had been trying to gently socialize him (asking everyone to ignore him, "don't pet him, he's in training", etc.) but had stopped bringing him most places because it was too stressful. Then I stopped having anyone over to my apartment, after he lunged up and actually bit a friend of mine when she got up to head home. She said she was okay but I was horrified and I had a spike of anxiety. It was late at night, I didn't have anyone to call/anywhere to go, no family, no boyfriend, the best friend I'd usually turn to was the one he had bitten! All I had was this monster; I thought "I should've named him Beast." :(
We had been working on longer and longer separations (but with me still in the house), so I felt trapped: I couldn't leave him by himself at home yet, I couldn't have anyone over, I couldn't bring him places, and now I have a dog that bites.
I was totally in over my head; major buyers remorse. I actually contacted the rescue saying I was afraid I'd have to give Prince back and called Justin asking what sort of refund he gives. I felt like an awful person that wasn't giving Prince the "forever home" I had promised. I already deal with anxiety and this was making it much worse. I was afraid that Prince was also feeling my anxiety, that I was making HIM worse, and that it was just going to keep snowballing like that. I was concerned about what this all meant for my future...In the next 10 years of our lives together, I want to be able to have friends over, bring my dog places, have a boyfriend over, have kids someday, and have my friends able to bring their kids over.
I met with Justin to talk about it, and he was seriously better than a therapist. With newly boosted confidence, I decided to keep at it. After a month with Bark Busters, Prince almost seems like a different dog. These days, he PLAYS with Justin when he sees him, all goofy smiles and waggy tail. I've had friends over with no issues and fewer and fewer issues in public. He respects and looks to me. He RUNS to his crate, and I've caught him voluntarily napping in there. I can leave the house again! Of course there are still things to work on, but I have all the confidence in the world (and I know Prince can sense that). I can't thank Justin enough.
Bark Busters dealt with Aggression, Barking, Pulling, Separation anxiety