Dogs and The Rulebook

Chatting with a customer recently we were discussing the anxiety her dog feels on walks. He is a recently rescued dog who was sadly returned a couple of times prior to his owners adopting him. He has a few quirks and is unsure of the world inside the home and outside the home. At the moment he pulls when anxious and generally unsure of things going on around him. This pulling and frenzied behaviour that he displays only causes him further stress.

His owners mentioned he can walk for hours but come home and not settle, in fact, it can seem to wind him up further. This wasn’t a surprise for me to hear, this can often occur in dogs who are chronically stressed. The pulling and lunging on lead and getting distressed by sudden noises is likely releasing adrenaline and cortisol into his system, this can take several days to flush from the system depending on the stress levels of the dog. As I continued to explain why these walks where he is over aroused might actually be counterproductive and that for some dogs walking everyday simply isn’t for them if its likely to be stressful, the dogs’ owner responded with a great wisdom. She said it’s as though we as people have a pre-written rulebook of what every dog wants and needs, but that actually that might not be true for every dog.

 

Every dog is an individual and all have different needs, sometimes it can be hard for us to move away from those ideas, but it’s important to remember that the “rules” we have in mind when we think about life with a dog, might not be the book of the dog in front of us. They might actually have one that states they would rather be at home and play games than go out and socialise with other dogs. They might actually prefer to go for a walk somewhere quiet once a day rather than have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the city. Or they might prefer a city walk rather than be harassed by offlead dogs constantly.

Looking at what your dog actually wants and needs rather than sticking to the way things have always been done will certainly fulfil your dog more.

 

Secrets to Perfection

Everyone is striving for it. Perfection.
The Perfect life is what everyone aims for , and with that the perfect dog.
Who is the perfect dog? We all have a different idea. For some its the dog who relaxes all day, gets up to eat and goes back to sleep. For most its the dog who obeys every command instantaneously. The dog who can socialise with EVERY person & EVERY dog. They walk beautifully on a loose lead, come back when called almost telepathically. They just want to be with you but don’t have anxiety issues at your lack of presence.
Owners are sold this ideal. If they socialise their dog well & train hard that is what their dog will be. I’m going to let you into a little secret here….Perfection doesn’t exist- Nor does the perfect dog.


We are doing our dogs a great disservice by expecting perfection from them. Very few of us can say we are perfect (one could argue those who do are suffering from delusions of grandeur perhaps!) So why do we expect perfection from them? Why must we accept nothing less than perfection or write a dog off as having “issues”. Why must our dogs have to be pounced upon by every ill mannered dog in the neighbourhood and take no issue with it. Why do we say they have issues with it when it’s perfectly normal to tell the stranger down the street to get away if they were to suddenly run over and hug you and challenge you to a game of Mariokart Double Dash on the gamecube (i’m living in the past…) It’s the same when another dog pounces on your dog having never met them demanding play. But we write off that dog as having “issues”. Owners of reactive dogs spend their lives waiting, for that moment *poof* (that’s magic fairy dust right there) your dog is no longer full of issues! The problem is they spend so much time hoping, frustrated…that before they know it they haven’t enjoyed being with their dogs. Appreciating them for who they are. If someone tries to tell you their dog is perfect- I promise you- They’re Lying. Their dog will have some quirk, some issue that makes their owner tell them “no” or “pack it in”


So am i saying give up on your dog with issues? Just don’t bother and leave them to it. No. Of course not. What I am saying is comparing them to what you deem perfection isn’t fair. Every moment you wishing for that is a moment wasted. Spoiler Alert- Your dog will not be perfect. Sorry if you were still under that illusion! Your reactive dog will NEVER be that Labrador bouncing all over all the dogs in the park and laughing it off. Sorry. Trust me. I get it. I *REALLY* get it. But every moment you spend going ” well yes he’s improved BUT ” and string off a list of things your dog isn’t ok with you’re doing yourself a disservice and you’re doing your dog one too. If you want to push for perfection then you are setting each of you up to fail. Its likely if you are reading this you have already done a lot for your dog, you have begun to work WITH them rather than against them. Help them overcome their issues. How amazing is that?

Rather than wanting and desiring perfection, pushing and rushing them into progress; why not enjoy the time you are spending with your dog? Those moments where it all goes right, those moments where it all goes wrong! You will look back one day with fond memories, isn’t that better than spending your time disappointed because he is not the perfect dog? Keep working hard, remember where you have come from, keep in mind where you are going. But never expect perfection. It simply doesn’t exist. Instead appreciate and enjoy the dog stood in front of you and how much you have already achieved.