“Tomas’ story is for anyone who thinks a dog can’t change. He was pulled from a hoarder’s house in Mexico, starved, covered in mange, and with parasites. He came into my care as a foster and I was immediately taken by how well behaved he was in the house, and he seemed like a perfect adventure buddy. Shortly after I decided to adopt him, he started showing signs of being fear-reactive and overprotective, especially with strange men. Without warning, he would suddenly lunge at someone on the street while out on walks. As I worked with a positive-reinforcement based trainer to condition him to people, we slipped up, and Tomas bit a worker who was in our yard unexpectedly. This triggered a police report, citation and Tomas being deemed a ‘dangerous dog’ by the municipal court. This designation came with all kinds of restrictions, including a muzzle requirement anytime he was off property. I worried that our lives would become very small, and my dream of having a dog who could go on hikes, mix well with other dogs and people, and be left with a pet sitter felt out of reach.
Everything I read said aggressive dogs could not be truly cured, but we kept working with a trainer and soon everything changed. Fast forward a year, and I’m thrilled to say that Tomas is an affectionate, relaxed, sweetheart of a dog. I can have people over, take him to off-leash dog parks and crowded spaces, and not worry about him hurting someone. Tomas relishes outdoor adventures and accompanies me on hikes, cross-country skiing and paddleboarding. He disliked snow and water when I first got him, but now he loves both (but not baths!). And I convinced the judge to remove the muzzle requirement and shorten his probation period. If you are struggling with a fear-aggressive dog (most aggression is fear-based), there is hope. Tomas is truly a joy to have.” – Tomas’ mom