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Meet Anxious Mason

Mason is a shelter dog at the Jacksonville Humane Society and was/is labeled as "extremely timid". You would be, too, if you had to listen to all that barking every day. I noticed one of the high school community service walkers CARRYING this guy from one of the yards earlier in the day (he's not small).

His card says that he has to be carried into and out of his kennel and carried out of the yard, just like I saw. Of course, I like a challenge so the afternoon walk was the chance to meet him and work with him. And I wasn't going to lose.

One of the absolute best things about volunteering there is that I get to see first hand what techniques work and which ones don't. Here's the biggest tip: respect animal/dog first, and then take your time and be patient. And yes, Mason was bad -- on a 1-10 scale of anxiety he was an 8 or 9. He would shut down when the gate was opened. So I spent about 10 minutes earning his trust and his respect by showing the same to him.

When it came time to take him out, he positively shut down at the opening, laying all of the way down and not budging. I sat on the floor of the hallway and kept constant pressure on the leash to get him to snap out and after about 15 seconds he got up and walked to my side. We had several other chances to correct that state of mind and each time it took less and less time until we walked all over the compound. He would stop every so often and lay in the grass (awesome!) and I eventually got him to jump up on the deck, which he absolutely wouldn't do at first. That took about 15 seconds...

Much happier afterwards, he walked proudly into his kennel and got treats and lots of affection. I did leave a note to be patient and STOP PICKING HIM UP!

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