Training the dog in front of you

Training the dog in front of you. It’s one of those things I feel is really important.

No dog is the same. They all have different likes and dislikes, they all have different quirks to their character. They can be the same breed as other dogs you have had in the past, they can be the same age as things you have taught previous dogs. But they cannot be the same dog.

Arthur has been with us for almost 2 years now. I knew I should expect many challenges adding another dog to the household. Marley and Womble are both reactive and highly strung, but both were at a point where they were much improved. I knew my biggest battle would be preventing reactivity in this loudmouth little puppy. Arthur has developed a few quirks as he has matured, however I am starting to realise something very important. Arthur is not Marley. Arthur is his own dog, I need to relax!!

The last 6 months Arthur’s tolerance for young males has decreased drastically, he has got a little more vocal and bouncy on lead. I have pretty much been avoiding dogs for the last 6 months, not deliberately. Just as a standard I guess. Once issues appear, you need to manage them. I am so used to Marley’s much more severe issues, it seemed the sensible step. But I found the more I have avoided…the more tense I have become. The more I have avoided, the more stressed I have been.

I should add I don’t mean walking him at midnight but instead seeing dogs and crossing roads. Avoiding areas where dogs go off lead. It was easier, less stressful. It became the new normal. However, I stumbled back into a routine of walking where many dogs go again recently. Every time someone asks “Is he friendly?” I feel myself hesitate and pause for so long ” Erm..yeah…I guess..He can be a bit much though?” I should answer YES he is friendly! There is nothing wrong with Arthur. Yep, he will tell inappropriate young males off..but that is fair. He probably pushes it a little now and then, but the other dogs push him as a starting point. He doesn’t really deserve to be postured at and jumped all over. It probably hurts him with his incredibly light frame!

On meeting more and more dogs again,I realised that actually, Arthur hasn’t had an issue…I have. I have been so worried that actually, Arthur was the problem. When I know if I was working with him as a customers dog, I would explain that although Arthur needs to learn manners in some situations, most of the time he’s being on the ball when telling another dog to back off- and he has every right to. I let Marley’s issue’s take over (Well, he doesn’t like to be left out!)

Do I have much to work on with Arthur? Absolutely! But I need to work on it and realise he won’t be dreadful, and he won’t be traumatized, and he won’t traumatize another dog. Arthur is Arthur. I need to not get worried he will be like Marley. They are almost polar opposites in every way.

Whether it is another dog you have or have had in the past, or even a friend’s dog; don’t expect the same behaviour. Don’t expect to resolve it in the same way. Appreciate your dog for who he is. And ensure that you are respecting them for the individual they are.

I realise that once again I have neglected this blog! Life has got in the way, as it easily can.

Expect to see more of my inane ramblings in future, on my 4 dogs and a bit more on the work we do with customer’s dogs now and then!

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.