From Fearful Fido to Party Pup – Sierra’s Story

Sierra – a sweet, playful one-year-old terrier mix – was transferred to the Jacksonville Humane Society from another shelter in May 2016. When she arrived, staff and volunteers immediately noticed that she was extremely shy in and out of her kennel. Not only was she afraid of the leash, but she had to be carried around the shelter because she was too afraid to walk! Our behavior team swept into action and made a behavior modification plan for Sierra.

Our staff and volunteers worked with Sierra to build her confidence so that she could be placed up for adoption and find a forever home. She really enjoyed spending time with other dogs, so we paired her up with other pups when being leashed, leaving her kennel, and even during walks. Slowly, staff saw improvements. A tail wag here, a gentle nudge there. Sierra was on the right path!

In addition to using a companion dog during her training, the staff and volunteers patiently fed her stinky (but delicious!) wet food by hand and enticed her with other high-valued treats like spray cheese and peanut butter. Using these high-value treats verses a common treat really gave Sierra the incentive to push past her fears. These techniques helped her to build confidence, build trust in people and even look forward to spending time with them!

Soon, this one shy girl became the life of the party. She actively sought out attention from staff, volunteers, and even adopters! Her new mom came to JHS looking for a best friend and after one look at those big brown eyes, she decided that Sierra was the one. Proudly sitting next to her new mom while the adoption paperwork was completed, Sierra was a totally different dog. It took time, patience, and a whole lot of treats, but thanks to the help of our staff and volunteers, this once timid and fearful pup is now a confident dog who makes a new friend wherever she goes!

Our behavior team is here to not only help the dogs and cats at JHS. Do you have a behavior concern or need guidance? Make sure you  visit our website, complete with a behavior library, resources, training schedule and contact information to help guide you and your furry family member in the right direction. 

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