When I'm rehabilitating a dog, I think to myself "I can do this," and then I ask myself, "what do I need to do to bring balance to this dog?" My passion is to create balance. I don't surrender to the idea that a dog will be a certain way forever. Yes, there are dogs with neurological problems that were born that way, but the Dog Whisperer team makes sure that all the dogs are checked out by a veterinarian beforehand. The truth is most of the dogs with behavioral issues have psychological problems.
I believe there are two main things that make me successful in rehabilitation. First, I don't know anything about the problem, so I don't come in with any preconceived ideas. I don't know anything about the past. I'm just meeting the dog as who he is at that moment. Second, I look to the environment to see what can help me to help him. Most of the time, it is the environment and the humans that empower the dog. The dog becomes territorial, and the dog becomes dominant.
So what goes through my mind is, "what do I need to do to help this dog achieve a calm-submissive state?" For the most part, the dog is not lacking affection. These owners love their dogs very much - that's why they went through the trouble to send in an audition tape. Usually, it's exercise or discipline that is missing. In what order? It depends. If I'm dealing with an aggressive or territorial case, the dog needs discipline. If I'm dealing with a hyper or nervous dog, it's exercise. Exercise builds self-esteem and creates trust. Psychological challenges create respect.
For me, it's not an intellectual process. It's about instinct and intuition. I am a big believer that God will show me the way and that the dog will tell me what I need to do.
Stay calm and assertive!