Jeff Gellman has literally saved my mental health (and my dogs!!)

My journey with Bear is a long one so bear with me (no pun intended).

I got Bear the summer before my senior year of college (mistake #1). He was so cute it was all I cared about. I didn’t discipline him. I didn’t train him. I didn’t crate him. (Mistakes #2, 3 and 4) I seriously thought that the fact that he would sit for a treat (and ONLY for a treat) was amazing. He tore up my entire house while I was gone. My mentality was, “he’s a puppy—he’ll grow out of it”.

His reactivity started at about 3-4 months old. I still remember the first time it happened—at a taco place. He was adorable so tons of people were coming up to meet him, which I allowed. But Bear was growling and snapping at every one of them. I had no idea what this was or why he was doing it. So I held him in my lap and I pet him, telling him he was a good boy and “it would be okay” (mistake #5). Little did I know, that adorable little fluff growling and snapping would turn into a literal monster one day. And it would all be my fault.

I spent a lot of money on trainers. In fact, I spent close to $1,000 which for a college student is crazy. The trainers weren’t bad, but I wasn’t getting any longterm results. In fact, I was only getting results during training when the trainer was around, but not on my own time. I tried neutering him because I had read online that that would help—it didn’t by the way. I struggled a lot with trying to “diagnose” Bear’s behavioral issue. I couldn’t figure out if he was reactive, fear aggressive or what. I read book after book, article after article on “How to Cure Reactivity with Positive Training!” or “Fear Aggression—Help!”. Oh boy, if I could put it into words how angry I am at that whole scam… Anyways, none of that worked. I spent hours trying to catch Bear’s attention when a dog approached and click & treat at the exact right moment… Nope. Nothing.

I am already a fairly anxious person. Actually, I am a constant ball of anxiety and lack of self confidence. After just one or two monstrous interactions between Bear and other dogs or people, taking him out became my worst fear. Even taking him out in my yard was stressful because he would attack my neighbors. I had so much anxiety to even walk him or take him to the dog park that I ended up not exercising him. This just made everything worse.

One day just 4 or 5 months ago, a neighbor left our communal gate open and I let Bear outside without realizing. He escaped, of course, and chased a man down the street barking and nipping at him. The man ran and kicked at him, so that didn’t help, but it was a nightmare. That day, I cried literally the entire day. I was embarrassed to even see my neighbors! I had decided that I was going to have to take Bear to the pound. I had failed him, and I couldn’t keep trying anymore. My heart couldn’t even handle that thought, luckily, and I didn’t end up doing anything. I just kept on with severe anxiety to take him outside.

Two months ago, I moved to New Orleans. I knew that if I felt unsafe walking Bear around, then his reactivity would be 1000x worse—and it was. My neighborhood here is filled with dogs. Literally, every house had a barking dog and every street has at least 3 dogs walking down it. I called my mom, desperate and crying, asking for any advice. She told me to get a prong collar. I couldn’t even believe she would be so barbaric (Yes, I was one of those people. Not that those people are bad, but I was one of those people). Luckily, I kind of considered it. I consulted my most recent trainer and he said he’s had success with them. So I googled “Should I get a prong collar?” and I found SolidK9Training.

My life will never be the same. I can’t even put it into words because I am not a gifted writer but it is truly the greatest thing to ever happen to me—discovering Jeff I mean. I initially just started with a prong collar because I wasn’t ready to shell out $180 for a remote collar. The prong helped SO much to reduce Bear’s lunging, but the growling and barking was still just as present. Even so, I had a lot more confidence walking him around—I just kept a large distance from other dogs and ducked around corners if necessary.

I watched every single video Jeff had posted in his DIY section. Finally, I got the remote collar. OH MY GOD. What took me so long?!?! The FIRST time I used it—THE FIRST TIME—Bear and I walked past a yard with 3 large barking dogs and another on-leash dog headed straight for us on the same side of the street. He walked through it all seamlessly, despite my understandable panic. For the first time since getting Bear, I cried happy tears. I was so shocked I could’t believe it. This whole time I had been searching for this miracle that would cure Bear’s reactivity and I found it.

P.S. It was not just the remote collar that helped. I had actually tried remote collars before (cheaper ones) but I had no clue how to use them. That’s where Jeff came in. I would have had no idea what to do with the Mini Educator 300 if I hadn’t watched his videos.

I now have a dog that can sit calmly next to a reactive dog. I now have a dog that knows “place” and is constantly improving it around distractions. I now have a dog that I have felt confident enough in to practice off-leash work (in a completely solitary area). I now have hope and it is seriously all thanks to Jeff Gellman. I tune into his periscopes as often as possible for small clarification questions which he always answers. Thank you, Jeff. I love your whole business and everything that you do (THANK YOU for all the free stuff!!). Much respect to you for being a serious, no-bullshit, badass dog HERO.

Ashlyn Henry