Do you like your dog, love your dog, but can’t live with his or her behaviours?
This is really very common and very confusing for a lot of people.
Here are my thoughts on this.
When people get a dog, they usually start liking their dog, (of course) and grow to love them, often very quickly. But sometimes through development, mishap, mistake, or something else, their dog starts displaying very concerning behaviours.
Possibly aggression, or resource guarding, or something concerning, frightening, or stressful for the owner to deal with.
As time goes by and people are suffering frequent repetitions of these behaviours, I believe that people start “not liking” their dog as much, or at least not at these times, though they may not be aware of this change as it is often seen as them feeling frustrated, stressed, anxious and sometimes even angry.
I have had people venting in a consult and saying, “I don’t even like this dog that much anymore!?” as if they are saying something that they have just realised or that would surprise me.
I often reply with, “I don’t like him either! Who would like that behaviour?”
But the reality is, they love their dog.
They just don’t like these behaviours, and I meet a lot of people who are approaching the point where they cannot live with their dog.
This is terribly upsetting for them because remember, they love him…
They are so conflicted, love him but can’t live with him.
They think that because they love him, they should like him.
Can these problems be solved?
Is there is a way out of this?
Sometimes… Most times… It depends… It’s complicated…
Using the example of our board and train program, dogs come to stay with us. We see and experience their behaviours and understand what is driving the behaviour and what reinforcement the dog is getting by displaying this behaviour.
We will teach the dog how we want the dog to behave and we do not do this with a dog that is overstimulated or already triggered by something else.
The dog learns, the dog responds and the dog begins to enjoy the work with us.
You know what, we start to like this guy!
We surely didn’t we he arrived.
We work on solid training and build more resilient versions of the behaviours we want and start working around the “thing” that sets him off.
He isn’t perfect, but he really TRIES.
We definitely like him now.
As the days passs, he shows us that he is vulnerable when a stranger approaches and scared. Yes, he covered that up with teeth, growing, barking, and lunging but he has shown us his soul now.
His behaviours perhaps were developed as a coping mechanism to avoid something unknown, unpleasant, or scary, and whilst not popular with the owners, they work.
We keep working with him and with some practice, trust, influence, leadership etc. he overcomes these problems and doesn’t “need” these behaviours anymore in the same situations he needed them before.
Changing yourself is hard and this guy did it!
Do we like him, HELL YEAH!
Do we love him? It happens with many dogs that stay with us yep.
Can we live with him? We have for the past 5 weeks!
We can walk him through town, stop for a coffee, have lunch, play in our paddock with other dogs and people around and we all have a great time.
So, he is “fixed”
Well, that’s a very strange word to describe what has occurred.
He can cope, he is comfortable, he is responsive to our direction, he doesn’t explode and display the behaviours that created so much stress for the owners. That’s what has happened.
Now, the sad time for us. He goes home.
We know that something, many things, everything the owners do may have contributed, created or reinforced the behaviours in their dog.
We work with them, teach them, guide them, support them and we often see THEIR fears, THEIR vulnerabilities, THEIR tears.
One thing has been proven though.
This dog can be well behaved (with support) in social environments around other dogs, people etc.
The skill is now to reform that relationship between the owners and their dog.
When I say “Sometimes… Most times… It depends… It’s complicated…”
I am talking about getting the owners to provide the environment, direction, education, enrichment, rules, boundaries, and reinforcement that we did when the dog was here.
That for us, can be challenging at times.
Board and train allows us to show you that your dog can behave, that your dog can cope and what you need to do to love, like and live with your dog.
Doing the parts of the program you like, and avoiding parts you don’t, not doing parts because they are hard or mixing this with other people’s ideas, your previous experience, what YouTube says and what you feel like doing has proven not to work.
Many times, when dogs have trouble with their owners, it is a relationship problem. It may be your fault, it may not be, it may be that you chose the wrong dog, it may be the dogs genetics…
It doesn’t matter whose fault; but you will need to respond to and approach your dog’s behaviour differently if you want to see a different behaviour.
The problem may be so serious that we need to take the dog into boarding to give owners a break. We do that often.
This article can help you decide if that option will help you (click here)
Don’t allow your dogs behaviour to diminish your like and love for him, then the fact that you cant live with your dog will take its toll.
We may need to do some training and behaviour modification to get the behaviours taught, trained and proofed and then hand back the dog and train the owner.
Take a look at this short article which can help you understand that it is not as simple as 123. (click here)
Know this, I would say that over 99% of dogs we are presented with that have behaviour problems can be solved to a point where you can live with the dog and be at peace.
But if you don’t want to change anything that you do or believe, that number is more likely 30-40%.
I say it often, dogs are easy, people can be tricky.
“I cant understand why someone would feel this way about their Fur Baby!!!”
Well, that is because a dog is not a Fur baby, and some of these dogs can be very aggressive, limiting, restricting and downright mean to their owners.
This article may help you understand (click here)
Here are some tips…
Be open to change yourself, your thinking, your perspective, your behaviour, your beliefs.
Don’t expect every day to be a good day.
Don’t expect your dog to do things you have not taught or trained.
Don’t think you have to like everything your dog does or like your dog all the time.
Understand love is not like, nor does it have to be.
Ask, “what do I need to do to make this better?“
Understand what it takes to be able to live in peace with your dog, his genetics and temperament.
Understand what your dog needs may not be want he wants.
Recognise your dogs’ changes as he makes them and like those.
Don’t expect to see a change, until YOU make one.