Honey's Story: Hard work and training pays off!

‘Honey lives up to her name, she’s an absolute Honey! She is the gentlest, most cuddly dog I’ve ever had and especially loves belly rubs! There seems to be zero aggression in her and I’ve never even heard her growl.’
Honey the German Shepherd sitting in the sun with Ollie the cocker spaniel

Honey the German Shepherd has come a long way since she first arrived with us as an anxious and reactive dog.

Dog trainer, Jan, told us, ‘She would bark at everything and everyone. She was very reactive to other dogs.’. This isn’t very surprising given Honey’s breed and the fact that she had attacked by other dogs twice in her life, once a just five months old and once when she was a little older.

Each dog that comes through our doors goes through a seven-day assessment to understand their medical and behavioural needs. Aside from a persistent urinary tract infection which took a while to clear up, we quickly learned that Honey was a very sweet girl who had a lot of fear-based behavioural issues.

Jan told us, ‘It took time to gain her trust and make her comfortable in a kennel environment. She was very wary of strangers but once she got to know you, she was a sweetheart. She would try and climb into your lap as if she was a much smaller dog!’.

Honey stayed with us for just over a year and our dog trainers worked consistently with her the whole time.

Where there is hope for a home, we will never give up. This means that some of the animals in our care stay with us for long periods of time. In Honey’s case, we were optimistic that with enough training and support, she could be successfully rehomed.

Our trainers worked with Honey to reduce her reactivity with lots of off-site walks, and opportunities to play off-lead in the paddock with her dog friends as well as other enrichment activities. The trainers aimed to reduce her frustration and stress levels and would reward calm behaviour with plenty of treats.

In time, she was ready to find a new home with someone who was experienced, patient, and willing to keep working with Honey to manage her reactivity. And at the same time, Debbi was ready to welcome a new family member after the loss of her elderly German Shepherd the year before.

She and her Cocker Spaniel, Ollie, visited the Home multiple times to socialise the two dogs and find out if they would be compatible. And thanks to all the great progress Honey had made with our dog trainers, they were a match!

Left image: Honey sitting in the paddock. Right image: Debbie and Honey cuddling

Debbi described Honey’s first few months at home:

‘She settled into the house very quickly but was anxious about everything outside and would constantly try to get up to the window whenever she heard any noise.

Going for walks was challenging as she would react strongly to any person or dog she saw. At this point we were only walking at 6am and 11pm to avoid other dog walkers.’

Shortly after bringing Honey home, Debbi started working with a trainer to maintain and support the great progress that she’d already made. Together they’ve been slowly but steadily continuing to work on her dog reactivity and Debbi continues to reward her for calm behaviour whenever the opportunity arises.

She tells us, ‘[Honey] loves her food and treats. She also loves her Kong squeaky tennis balls and tug toys which she will bring to me if she’s in the mood for a game. I work from home and she does this when I’m in meetings so has become a well-known favourite with my colleagues too!’

‘I live on my own so my dogs are my constant company, I never feel lonely. It’s also such a joy to see her come on, grow in confidence and enjoy her life.’

No matter how great or small a dog’s behavioural or medical issues are, our team provide the same level of care and devotion. We give everything we can to help each dog and cat that comes through our doors to build strength and confidence and find the loving new home they deserve.

Thanks to the generous support of public donations, we’re able to provide this high level of care and attention to the animals who need us. Your help means that we’re able to hire excellent dog trainers like Jan to ensure that every dog has a second chance at love.

Help us be there for dogs like Honey

Give a gift today