Dog Feature, Reactive Dog

March Most Improved Dog Feature: Rufus

The very handsome Rufus
Photo Cred: Amy Hempe

I am so pleased to introduce Rufus and his Dog Mom, Amy.  Amy is the creator of the blog The Rufus Files, which is a funny and touching look at her life with rescue dogs.  She is a finalist for two BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Awards: the Best Written Pet Blog Post and the Best Pet Humor Blog.  While Amy is super cool, we’re actually here to feature her pup, Rufus!


Name: Rufus

Age: 2 1/2 years old

Breed: Rottweiler/Boxer/Shar Pei mix

Color: Black and Brindle with white paws and white chest

Background:  When Rufus was about 5 months old, he was tied up and abandoned in an alley in Denver.  When Amy found him, she searched high and low for an owner to make sure little Rufus didn’t already have a home.  Unfortunately, he was all alone in the world, but that didn’t last long because he soon became part of Amy’s family!


Amy states that Rufus is “high energy, playful, very attentive, and bright,” but from the very beginning, she noticed Rufus was unsure of new people.  He is very skittish and barks around people he doesn’t know.  She also has problems with Rufus going to the vet (I totally get it Rufus, I hate the dentist!)

And while Amy’s dog Sophie and Rufus were instant friends, sometimes he really wants to play and can get a little pushy with other dogs.  Amy and her two dogs were at the dog park and she found Rufus persistently trying to get another dog to play.  The other dog was scared and the owner reacted by raising her voice to Amy.  The escalation of emotions and movement of the woman upset the dogs further, setting off lots of barking.  This one instance made Amy wary of bringing Rufus to the dog park again.

Finding Help

Luckily, Rufus has a great Dog Mom and together, they’ve been working to help Rufus feel a little more comfortable in this crazy, scary world!  Amy decided to get Rufus into doggie daycare to continue his already decent socialization with other dogs, but to also get him used to different people.  This has been great for Rufus and he actually loves the staff there. He also follows all the dog rules, even when a dog snapped at him!

When Rufus, was one year old, Amy decided to take Rufus to see a behaviorist.  The behaviorist concluded that Rufus was a barker, not a biter.  In other words, Rufus is a scared of a few things, but isn’t aggressive.  I’m sure this news came as a relief to Amy.  The behaviorist also shared with them some great tips including: have new people give him treats (building positive association with people) and don’t make eye contact with him right away (eye contact can be very confrontational for dogs).

Along with those great actions, Amy also takes practice trips to the vet with Rufus and has crate trained him, so that he has a safe, calming place at home.

The Most Improved Dog Award

Having a challenging dog has it’s ups and downs, but what’s important to remember is that any kind of improvement is a win and cause for celebration!  Amy finds that Rufus has started to mature with his age and has gotten calmer around others.  She also realized that treating Rufus when they go different places helps creates positive associations and in turn, a happier dog!

Amy so loves Rufus’ sweet personality and the bond they have.  Because of the trust Rufus has in his Dog Mom, he does great when he’s with her.  For all these reasons, Rufus is receiving the March Most Improved Dog Award! Congratulations Rufus!

Visit Amy and Rufus:

Blog: The Rufus Files

@therufusfiles on Facebook

@therufusfiles on Instagram

19 thoughts on “March Most Improved Dog Feature: Rufus”

  1. good for Rufus! He’s such a handsome fellow and his owner is doing such a good job with him. It takes a very special person willing to do the work, have the patience and take the steps necessary to set their dogs up for success. That wonderful bond is the best reward!

  2. How WONDERFUL that between Rufus’ dog mom and the behaviourist, Rufus is overcomin’ some of his fears. Learnin’ to deal with the world, and stranger peeps, and stuff. Stranger peeps can be scary. BELIEVE ME, I know. And doctors? Well let’s just say, if it weren’t for the treat jar my doctor keeps on her desk… MOUSES!

  3. Having a perceptive pet parent is critical to a dogs wellbeing and welfare, particularly if they are reactive. Rufus is in good hands and will walk the proper dog walk with confidence thanks to his mum.

    Well done Rufus.

  4. What a fantastic story and I am so happy that Rufus found the right home and Mom and as you said come a long way. There is a lot of work sometimes with rescues because we do not know their backgrounds but with patience, love and treats I do firmly believe we can over come things. Thank you

  5. It shows how much a dedicated owner can do, while also accepting her dog. My Andy has some Sharpei, too in his crazy DNA soup, and I love the strong will and loyalty of the breed.
    (YAYDog Clare)

  6. Good boy Rufus!! I need to work on the “I don’t like young kids” thing… we are a childfree home so it’s not a daily issue but still…. hopefully we will be as successful as Rufus and his Mom!

  7. So glad I found your blog! Saw you Instagram and I see here we have a lot of mutual BlogPaws friends. I am a reactive dog in the car, and in parking lots (car!) and Mommy has tried everything over the last 10 years, aka, my entire life. I’m a super good girl, I know lots of commands & tricks, but the car & people near it is like another planet I can’t conquer. I had a ruff beginning before Mommy, so I might have a trigger she’s unaware of.
    I loved the article! Rufus is going to continue to succeed, I just know it. Have a great day!

    1. Aw! Hi Pixel and Dog Mom Jenny! So nice to meet you guys! Those ruff beginnings totally stink and it can make life a little scary! I’m so glad you found us! Are you and Mommy going to the BP conference this year?

    1. He absolutely deserves the attention! If he didn’t get into trouble, life would be boring! Haha!

  8. Aww, I love this! What a blessing that Rufus and Amy have each other. While he may never be the most confident boy around new people, he trusts that Amy won’t put him in situations he can’t handle. That trust is what a loving relationship is built upon.

    1. Such a great point! Our dogs put their complete trust in us to not put them in bad situations! It’s so important for us to honor that and be there advocates and protectors!

  9. Congratulations Rufus on your Most Improved dog award, you deserve it! Humans can be darn scary, even for humans! So you’re not alone! But we’re glad you have come so far with the support of your mom.

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