Willy (*18.01.2008 - †08.01.2024)

When Willy came to live with me, he was already 9 years old. He had grown up with his family in Spain. After the family moved to Germany, circumstances changed in such a way that the family felt compelled to look for a new home for him. That's how he came to me.

Willy was very friendly to people, especially children. Typical of Fox Terriers, he was usually in a good mood, full of energy and distinctly headstrong. He reacted to pressure with stubbornness, but would talk to you if he thought it made sense. Since my childhood I have had a special relationship to this breed, our family dog Zora was a Fox Terrier.

"He only has one problem - he doesn't like other dogs". I heard this friendly warning from the previous owner, but I was sure I could quickly get the problem under control. Far from it.

Overwhelmed

Willy reacted with extreme aggression to all conspecifics we met. No matter what size or breed, male, female or puppy. I was not prepared for such behaviour and felt completely overwhelmed after a short time. Every dog encounter became a challenge. Since I didn't know how to deal with Willy in these situations, he caught and bit other dogs several times. The walks became a gauntlet. Finally, I was afraid of dog encounters and tried to avoid them as much as possible, which is anything but easy, especially in Berlin, where most people have at least one dog.

In search of help

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I got a lot of advice: "Antje, when you are calm, Willy is calm too", or "Antje, Willy has to learn that you are the pack leader and that he has to obey". That sounded quite reasonable to me. The only problem was that as soon as Willy saw another dog, even from a distance, he got so upset that it didn't matter how I reacted. Willy didn't notice me at all in those moments.

I asked dog trainers for help. They did their best and suggested different solutions to the problem. Willy was very friendly with the trainers and went through the exercises with amazing patience. However, this did not change his aggression towards other dogs. Finally, I put a muzzle on him outside and was able to walk him a little more calmly. 

I went into the world of animal communication and hoped to find help there. I received partly plausible, partly absurd explanations for Willy's behaviour. In the end, this kind of telepathy did not convince me. Willy remained completely unimpressed, as it seemed, in any case, it did not change his behaviour.

Help found - fundamental and sustainable

Then, by chance, I saw an interview with James French in which he presented his method, the Trust Technique®. That immediately made me curious. It was a completely new approach and I wanted to know more about it right away. I researched everything I could find on it. Finally, I did the Trust Technique Video Course and then decided to train as a Trust Technique Practitioner.

The Trust Technique® was the first method that has helped us fundamentally and sustainably. With the Trust Technique® I learned to become peaceful and listen to Willy. The first thing I learned from him was that he communicated with me all the time. He did this with small movements that I had not noticed before because I was too busy worrying about him.

The effect on him was that he generally became calmer and gradually started to change his behaviour towards other dogs on his own. In the second step, I helped him to become calm again after every exciting dog encounter. And slowly but surely Willy found his way back to his ability to communicate with other dogs. Of course, he didn't suddenly like all dogs, with some he became and still becomes loud. But he went into this frenzy less and less often over time when he met other dogs. In the beginning, I couldn't believe my eyes when he greeted other dogs in a friendly way or simply ignored other dogs.

Willy as a senior dog

tierischvertraut 7With the Trust Technique® I understood Willy better and better and helped him with challenges. Towards the end of his life, his eyesight and hearing deteriorated considerably. His osteoarthritis made it increasingly difficult for him to move. Eventually, he became increasingly disoriented and was plagued by a great restlessness, especially at night, against which nothing helped. I could see him getting weaker and weaker and finally I decided to let him go. He became 16 years old.

Thank you, Willy!

Insight

I've learned a lot in these last months with Willy. Wasn't the core of the Trust Technique to help the dogs to be peaceful? And why did it no longer work for Willy? I was driven by these questions. First and foremost the Trust Technique helped me myself during this time. I gradually learned to accept that I couldn't stop his physical and mental decline. I learned to classify the Trust Technique more clearly in terms of its application and limitations.