Client Cases

Pashmak the Maltese Mix – A Puppy Raised to Near Perfection with the Way of Life Method

Our clients had their share of unfulfilling experiences with dogs, including behavior issues and health issues. They reached out even before their puppy’s arrival, so we could organize indoor play and train space, a crate, indoor and outdoor exercise pens, a leash and harness, toys, treats, food, and much more. We also discussed the importance of attitude and mindset toward a new puppy and lined up vets and groomers.

They named their beautiful new female Maltese mix puppy Pashmak, after the Persian dessert that resembles her smooth, silky coat. Pashmak was given a schedule including games, exercise, socialization, crating, indoor and outdoor solo time, and mat time in designated spaces.

Nevertheless, Pashmak’s first few days were bumpy, with lots of barking, fussing, and whining in her crate. Our clients panicked, fearing behavior issues. But their new pup was just homesick and culture-shocked – she needed time to adjust. I warned Pashmak’s mom, with a touch of humor, that she could expect fierce initial reactions from her spirited pup in just about any situation. But she could calmly ride out Pashmak’s many new experiences.

Our clients applied the Way of Life Method to near perfection. Through private coaching and referring to The Way of Life Method and Puppy Primer, Pashmak’s mom organized the entire family around the care of their new pup. She dedicated herself to diligently applying the pillars of the method, adjusting course as her pup matured.

She took in stride her pup’s resistance to being crated, transported in a crate, and put in her outdoor x-pen alone, building self-esteem in a toy dog that so many others would have spoiled and coddled instead. She patiently housetrained Pashmak, accepting accidents and knowing that her pup’s cleanliness instincts were on her side. Common advice says to take puppies out every two hours, but Pashmak was taken out only 4 or 5 times a day. This allowed Pashmak the rest she needed and minimized interference. Pashmak’s mom encouraged her sons to walk and play Pashmak, who played tug better than many larger dogs.

Again contrary to popular advice, Pashmak’s socialization was restricted to her family and extended family, and her vet and groomer. She met strangers and their dogs at a distance on walks and visits to pet stores and dog-friendly cafes. My dogs were the only ones she interacted with directly, at our training sessions. Given their impeccable behavior around her, they gave her confidence around dogs, while dogs socialized excessively often become anxious around other dogs.

At home, Pashmak was allowed in only a few spaces and always supervised. Her spaces were blocked off with her toys and mat provided. Eventually, our clients introduced “sniffy walks” in different parts of the house, gradually exposing her both at home and outside. She will need grooming throughout her life, but we delayed her first appointment as much as possible to ensure she was ready. Pashmak handled the experience like a lady.

When our coaching wrapped up, Pashmak was a maturing 8-month-old adolescent. Thanks to the incredibly thoughtful application of the method, this sound pup boarded with us confidently, braving her alone time like a big girl, crating in this new place like it was nothing, and socializing fully around my dogs.

Our clients feel a tremendous satisfaction when they see their well-behaved, stable, fun-to-play-with and fun-to-walk pup, especially after past challenges with dogs. We teach the Way of Life Method, but it is our clients who diligently bring the method to life and reveal its power in raising sound, strong, and spirited dogs.

Client Testimonial

My experience with the Way of Life Method and Dr. Souha Ezzedeen has surpassed all my expectations. I was skeptical of dog trainers because everyone seems to have a different, and often contradictory, opinion on how best to train a dog. But I have come to understand that the Way of Life Method is so much more than “dog training.” It’s more like “human coaching.”

From my first call with Dr. Ezzedeen, I knew she was the one I wanted to work with. She was clearly intelligent and compassionate, but most importantly she “walked the walk” with her method – which was so refreshing.

Her all-inclusive coaching package was worth its weight in gold! I benefitted from 6 months of almost daily communication with Dr. Ezzedeen (texting, videos, voice messages), including in-person sessions with my dog. She was right by my family’s side any time we had a question or concern. Her responses were always prompt and detailed. My family now has an incredibly lovely, calm, well-behaved, confident, and oh-so-sweet dog!

I have also read her beautifully written book, taken two of her online workshops, and boarded my dog with her for two weeks when we travelled. My dog returned home more mature after spending time with dogs who were also raised in the Way of Life Method. It had such a positive influence on my young, impressionable dog.

I highly recommend the Way of Life Method for anyone who is serious about having a joyful, calm, and easy relationship with their dog. It takes some work at first, but it is not hard work if you are committed to the goal. I’m ever so grateful to Dr. Ezzedeen for her insight, support, professionalism, and above all, her wisdom in understanding dogs and humans alike.

~ Dr. Rebecca Sharif, Markham, ON, Canada

Mary the Squirrel Chaser – Channelling a Strong Predatory Instinct

Meet Mary, a mixed-breed beauty transferred to Toronto from a shelter in Texas. Mary recently celebrated her fourth birthday, and I am certain that she and her mom are also celebrating their healed relationship. Indeed, the last year was challenging, with Mary giving my client a run for her money.

Although she is a little skittish at times, Mary has a lovely temperament – happy, outgoing, smart, social — the whole package. Despite a tough start in Texas, the challenge of traveling to Canada, time in a foster home, and then activity restrictions as she recovered from heartworm, Mary was a sweetheart. Having dealt with challenging dogs her whole life, my client saw Mary as comparatively “easy,” and so, without consciously deciding, moved too quickly through the stages of the Way of Life Method. She integrated Mary too quickly at home and gave her more off-leash freedom outside than appropriate. My client was also quite affectionate with her dog and allowed herself to like the dog a little too much, a little too soon, which I recognize can be hard to avoid with such an endearing personality.

However, Mary was still immature and her relationship with my client was still fragile. About a year after adopting her, my client shared with me that Mary was incessantly taking off after squirrels and not always coming back when called. Not only that, my client had been struggling with physical limitations, making it painful for her to hold on to Mary’s leash or run after her when Mary would tear off after a critter.

Although my client was already well versed in the Way of Life Method, she reached out to me for help. Things had gotten so bad, with Mary ripping the leash away to chase a few times a day, that my client began to suffer from mini-whiplash symptoms. She was researching all she could about predation behavior, looking at using a no-pull harness, and even considering rehoming Mary.

Since the situation was dire, we went immediately to work on the four pillars of the Way of Life Method, including handler attitude and mindset, managing space and boundaries, drive development, and socialization. Because she does not want to part with Mary and knows she can find real help in the Way of Life Method, my client has dedicated herself to the program.

Highlights of Mary’s recovery include channeling her prey drive using daily games of tug and ball, gradual socialization with canine playmates to satisfy her appetite for dog-on-dog interactions, and walking in more urban environments offering Mary a different variety of distractions to deal with. Also, my client is working on maintaining the healthy emotional distance and objectivity needed to help Mary seek her approval – approval she’d been given a little too quickly.

Today, my client can take Mary out to places with a reasonable number of squirrels around. Mary perks up and sometimes attempts to stalk them, but she is now responsive, clearheaded, and able to regulate her instincts because her prey drive is being nurtured instead of frustrated and her bond with her mom has been strengthened. This is what happens when we focus less on problem-solving and more on rearing sound, strong, and spirited dogs. Watch Mary’s debut in a recent YouTube video here.

Client Testimonial

I highly recommend Way of Life™ Dog Training for anyone seeking help with their dog’s problem behaviours. Skilled and passionate about the human-canine dynamic, trainer Souha Ezzedeen guides you on a journey of revelation and resolution as you and your dog make lasting changes that will deepen and enrich your relationship. Souha’s Way of Life™ is a transformative experience.

~ Cathy C., Toronto, ON, Canada

Newt the Northern Breed: From High-Strung and Wary to Calm and Confident

When I was seeking help with my native gardens, I called on Sustainable Roots Ecological Restoration Inc. and had the pleasure of meeting the co-owners, Andy and Reid. Andy came for a visit, and our conversation turned to dogs and my training business. He then shared the struggles that he and his wife, Reid, were facing with their northern-breed dog, Newt. He also mentioned their limited success using conventional training methods. It became clear that we were meant to work together and agreed to barter gardening services for training services.

Newt had come to my clients as a puppy from a northern reservation, and she was about a year and a half old when we met. She presented with numerous issues, including resource guarding and barking at guests in the house, strangers on the street, and often at nothing at all. Having people and their dogs over was nearly impossible. Newt could never quite relax and often acted territorial around visiting dogs, especially Penny, a family member’s Boston terrier.

My clients hired a professional trainer and were able to make some progress. However, the approach was primarily focused on obedience training and enforcement using a prong collar, and Newt continued to be a challenge. Their efforts to tire her out by any means necessary – at the dog park, at dog daycare, or with long walks and hikes – did not help. To the contrary, Newt was so high-strung and wary of visitors that the couple wondered if they would ever be able to return to their pre-pandemic socializing and grow their family one day.

When we began working together, we first held an in-depth conversation about behavioural issues and the differences between the mainstream way of doing things and the Way of Life Method. We also introduced critical way-of-life changes, which coincided with their move from the city to a quieter country location. The fact that our work began right as my clients were moving into a new home meant that we had a unique opportunity to get off to the right start in their new residence. The changes we made included challenging the dog with appropriate physical exertion and exercises to channel her drive and energy. Our clients also took charge of her life with greater structure and predictability.

Despite Newt’s bumpy start, now that enough time has passed for their new way of life to take hold we have much progress to celebrate. Newt is significantly calmer, happier, and more authentic in her personality. She often joins Andy and Reid at work. Newt rides in the truck as they travel from site to site and can increasingly hang out with them and their employees as they work. Penny can visit and socialize at a distance from Newt, and the two girls are now taking walks together.

We are so grateful to have met Reid, Andy, and their beautiful girl, Newt. I love how well our barter arrangement of dog training for gardening has worked out. In Reid’s words, “we have found our trainer, and she has found her gardeners. Isn’t the universe kind of funny like that?”

Client Testimonial

Souha has a book out – The Way of Life Method – that I would recommend to anyone with a dog, whether you experience behavioral issues or not. There is so much knowledge to be gleaned from her work, and I think that everyone with a canine companion would agree how important it is to tend to that bond. So now, we have found our trainer, and she has found her gardeners. Isn’t the universe kind of funny like that? Our work with Newt is far from over. But the relief that we feel knowing that we can have a normal life without the heartbreak, guilt, and shame of walking away from our dog – a thought that was in no way taken lightly – is such a gift. Thank you, Souha!

~ Andy & Reid, Whitevale, ON

Nimbus the German Shepherd: Anxiety – Aggression – Leash Pulling

Several years ago, I was introduced to Nimbus’s owner, an ambitious young man who was going to school and working full-time while still dedicating himself to raising his young pup, a German shepherd. We worked together for a while but then lost touch. I was glad to hear back from him but was dismayed that Nimbus wasn’t doing well. 

Turns out Nimbus’s owner had met someone special. They were in love, had moved in together, and now did not see eye to eye on how Nimbus should be dealt with. Finally my client’s partner contacted me, hoping we could pick up where we’d left off all these years ago.

Indeed, Nimbus had become anxious, stressed, and quick to react to people and animals. He was also potentially dangerous around people; one could not walk by too close without him wanting to grab someone’s arm. At home, he paced restlessly, whined, and barked at neighbors. He was hard to handle, impossible to settle, and howled and hollered as if he were being tortured anytime anything would be asked of him. I had never encountered anxiety of this scale. More than once, it was suggested that Nimbus ought to be medicated and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the only way. 

By the time my clients had contacted me, they were prepared to make changes, as their quality of life was at an all-time low. We worked on bringing their mindsets into alignment and taking charge of the dog’s life, whether inside or outside the home. Therefore, we crated Nimbus, established a schedule for him, and began seriously challenging him in his outings. Even in their small apartment, when he was out of the crate, he was still blocked off from certain spaces.

We revved up a weak food drive and strengthened his prey drive, tugging and playing ball with him. We discovered that Nimbus was one of those dogs that would want to take his ball with him to heaven. It soothed him to have a ball, and we let him carry it around inside as well as on his walks, which helped tremendously with his reactivity.

As a coach, it was a real thrill for me to see not only Nimbus change but his people change as well. While becoming more and more consistent in handling, they each developed their unique style and cultivated their own bond with the dog. Nimbus doesn’t have just one person he looks up to but two.

One of the first signs of improvement was how deeply Nimbus slept, inside or outside the crate, as his anxiety receded. I kept getting videos of Nimbus snoring, sleeping soundly, on his back, sometimes his tongue sticking out in relaxation. He got better all the time at being calm inside and outside the house, ignoring the neighbors, ignoring strangers, dealing better with other dogs. He started to become silly and spirited and, at the same time, more mature and respectful of boundaries. It’s been a thrill getting videos of him walking loosely in a busy neighborhood and being described by his owners as pleasant and chill.

It took two years, but Nimbus was successfully decompressed, and he and his owners have solid relationship foundations. Because Nimbus is sounder and stronger than ever before, he responds well when asked to do things, such as leaving something alone that would previously have made him reactive.

Among other successes, my clients have been able to take Nimbus camping and hiking with my girls. We must trust that all that good work will pan out, and indeed it did with this German shepherd and his family. Check out a video of Nimbus on our YouTube channel.

Client Testimonial

I used to think that to have a good pet dog means a dog that is obedient and will be there for the owners, and that to fulfill a dog’s needs is to make sure that the basics are done plus exercising the dog by letting him/her run around. Oh boy was I wrong. Souha taught and reminded us how to let a dog be a dog first, before he or she can be a companion. I used to push my own expectations of our dog onto him, unknowingly contributing to his extreme anxiety about environmental changes.

Through Souha’s dedicated mentorship, she has guided me and my partner to repair our bond with our dog, help him build his confidence, find calmness during changes, and he is showing us the wonderful goofy German Shepherd that we knew he was inside all along.

~ Tatianna W., Toronto, ON

Stella the Mastiff Mix Rescue – A Powerhouse of a Dog

Introducing Stella the Mastiff. Stella’s folks, a young couple with their heart in the right place but little experience with dogs, came to WOLDT alarmed at the growing challenges they were experiencing managing their big girl.

At a little under a year old and 110 lbs. and counting, Stella was terribly hard to handle. She’d bite the leash and drag her people out the apartment, through the corridors of their condo building, into busy elevators, and out into the crowded streets of downtown Toronto. 

Some people nearby made things even more challenging for my clients. Drawn to Stella’s size and sweetness, they added fuel to the fire by constantly wanting to “say hi,” often without checking with her humans and causing Stella to pull towards them. My clients were also under the impression that this kind of “socialization” was a good thing, because they’d read so much on the internet about the importance of socializing dogs, particularly rescues like Stella. 

Things took a worrisome turn when Stella started to mouth and grab their arms, and they began to wonder whether this meant they had an aggressive dog on their hands.

So we went to work at the practical level – structuring Stella’s daily life, governing her social interactions, and handling her size kindly, safely, and effectively. As an FYI, this did not involve the use of tools such as choke chains, prong collars, e-collars, or head halters. Rather, it involved coaching my clients on handling with power and poise, in a way that helped the dog settle and care to stick around. Power rather than force.

We also went to work at the conceptual level, working towards a better understanding of the differences between healthy socialization and the unfettered greeting and touching of dogs that people these days call socialization. It meant appreciating that successful socialization requires that our dogs trust us first. 

It wasn’t long before Stella responded positively to the change in handling and attitude. I knew the moment I met her how stable and sweet she was, only she wasn’t sure she could let herself be that way whereas now she can. 

Not long ago, my clients had the opportunity to move out of the city and while out on a walk one day, they received a fantastic compliment from a stranger. The woman said she could see how “good-natured and bonded” Stella was and that it was “nice to see someone who is well suited to having a dog have one.” 

Now that is a compliment!

Client Testimonial

We approached Souha when we were feeling overwhelmed and out of our depth with our very sweet, but ungovernable, mastiff mix rescue. Souha’s advice was immediately helpful and gave us the knowledge and tools to stop fretting and struggling. Our dog became calmer and better integrated into our lives over a short span of time as we worked with Souha. As Souha will tell you, her approach is not predicated on dog tricks, but predicated on building a deeper bond with your animal through practical routine and lifestyle changes. The behaviour aspect falls into place.

Souha was incredibly generous with her time and knowledge, and always reachable. She encouraged regular updates on our progress. There was never a doubt in our minds that Souha cared as much about our dog’s welfare and happiness as we did. I have little doubt that working with Souha and implementing her advice will show exponential improvements in behaviour and relationship with your dog. We plan on returning to Souha to continue to work our way up through the different stages of socialization and integration with our dog. We would highly recommend her services.

~ Alexandra K. & Andrew K., Toronto, ON