Tango’s Story

Sometimes I’m afraid to share Tango’s story. I often feel the need to defend him even when there is no judgement. It’s a preemptive measure on my part. But more often than not his story is received with love, understanding, and support. Tango is a reactive dog. He has fear aggression, food aggression, and other various behavioral issues. Years ago he bit my nephew when he tried to hug him. He perceived it as a hostile action, as most dogs do. Dogs do not like to be hugged but they tolerate it. A dog with fear aggression will not. He has also reacted aggressively towards other dogs when in stressful situations or when he’s being resource protective of me. The basket muzzle is great for a dog with aggression issues. He can still drink, receive treats, pant, bark, etc., but he can’t bite. If we are going to be in a situation where I feel Tango might not do well he wears his muzzle. It protects others as well as him. This is not a solution. It does not fix the problem. He does not live in this muzzle. It is used in very specific settings.

Tango is not a bad dog. He is not mean. He is sweet and loving despite having these issues. His fear aggression does not define him but it is a part of who he is as a dog. We have worked with great professional pet dog trainers and an amazing animal behaviorist since he was a puppy. Keeping Tango busy and working is key. For example, when it’s time to clean he puts away his toys, carries various objects for me, picks up trash and so on. When we are in public we focus on a mix of obedience commands and distraction techniques. Tango is 9 years old this year and his training will never end. He will always be a work in progress. He is and always will be lots and lots of work. He is and always will be worth it. He is an awesome dog. He is funny, smart, lovable, motivated, eager to learn, and the best cuddler. He has taught me far more than I will ever be able to teach him. Not every person is equipped to handle a dog like Tango. But everyone should know that no matter what the issue or how hard it is, there are resources and people out there that can help you. Our four-legged family members deserve the very best we can give them!

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The Tango life #BarkingMadLab

A post shared by Jan Dorr Freeman (@barkingmadlab) on

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Tracey Barker says:

    What a lovely statement .Hes a gorgeous member of your family and like humans animals have issues also . We get mental health treatment animals a needle to go to rainbow bridge. How good of you to post a positive out look on such a lovely dog .Hope Tango carries on having a full and loving life .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tracey meaghan says:

    I have a beautiful rescue dog named Tom we have gone through very similar issues with him he is so loving but also nervous his behaviour can be unpredictable which makes family members on edge including me he lets me do anything like cut his fur check him over etc but tom can change towards my sons in the blink of an eye he’s so lovable it hurts xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jess says:

    Keep at it. I have a rescue greyhound who was reactive to the point of making it almost impossible to take him for a walk. When he was muzzled parents would cross the road with their children and grown adults would give him a wide berth. A woman with a reactive young dog with no recall and off the lead told me I shouldn’t take aggressive dogs out whilst her dog was barking at him and he was going for it.

    Fast forward a few months and I have a completely different dog. No muzzle (still on the lead) who meets other dogs face to face and only occasionally gives one a telling off from a distance. People come up to him to stroke him and meet him all the time. He was 6 and had suffered a typical awful greyhound existence before me and after a long and difficult time of cheese related bribery training and a hell of a lot of patience he is slowly getting better. I even get cuddles on the sofa when he decides that is what he wants.

    Dogs are beautiful, clever and resilient. Yours sounds incredible. Even if he has to be muzzled for the rest of his days don’t let other people’s feelings get to you. It s more often than not their own issues than it is yours and Tangos. Keep it up you are doing a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Marian Ward says:

    My Flynn is the same. He is so loving and friendly but completely unpredictable with other dogs. I have to keep him on a lead . I would not part with him for the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tracy Smith says:

    I had a yellow lab, exactly the same. People said put him down it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I lost him last year aged 13. In that time I had to be selective on visitors, walks, vets and holidays, often feeling isolated. But he loved me and my partner unconditionally, if we could have lived on a dessert island live would have been great. I never gave up on him, to me he was a child with issues and do we put them to sleep? No you address the issues. I was never going to cure Toby I had to learn to deal with it to protect him and others. I understand the pain of anyone who has a pet with issues and like the majority of people who criticised him it was actually a human that caused them. Tracy Smith

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Barb says:

    All of you are amazing… I respect you with all my heart… I have zero tolerance for those who dump their pops at the shelter becouse of their behavioural issues… Or moving… Or downsizing… Or no time… Or…………

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rob says:

    Not sure why anyone would have anything negative to say about this. You have targeted the issue and are doing everything in your power to try and help tango through it. You’re doing an amazing job and so is tango! If we just got rid of humans with issues I bet the population would be 85% smaller. Keep up the work and I hope tango gets past some of the aggression issues.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Susan alexander says:

    I feel your pain. I have a wonderful golden retriever rescue who is reactive with other dogs. We have taken training courses and are teaching him to use a muzzle when needed. Cheese treats and a ball in his mouth on walks seem to help calm him down. The one thing that drives him, and me crazy is when people let their dogs run up to him, and when I try to warn them they say “don’t worry, my dog’s friendly!” Well, mine isn’t. Can’t they see I am on leash, not in an off leash area? My advice to people is to Give us space and control their dog.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jan says:

    You are amazing and have never given up on him there is great love with this dog i can sense that he loves you too .

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jan says:

    Amazing story but also heart breaking is he a rescue dog .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jan says:

    Amazing story .

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Georgina says:

    You’ve described my huskymal to the teeth. Thank you for letting me know I’m not the only one who’s going throw this. Vet visits, walks and even people coming to the house are stressful situations.. I often fear my neighbors thinking they will call the councils on him for wearing a muscle and him being reactive. But I would never give up on him. His face smiling at me every morning at 5 am is the best thing everyday 😂 my fluffy goodball Lobo

    All the best Gina

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fran says:

    You are being a responsible pet parent. Kudos to you for doing what’s best for everyone, including your precious Tango.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Katie says:

    I’ve got no experience of an aggressive dog, but you are doing a great job.
    I don’t know if this will help but, I have a friend who’s dog wears a muzzle and she puts coloured fabric around the edges and she says the reaction from the public is much better (weird but true).
    “It makes the dog look cute”
    Anyway, it’s just an idea and keep going with it all, you’re doing great x

    Liked by 1 person

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