I took a wonderful dog training seminar a few weeks ago that peaked my interest in a subject that we all talk about, our dog’s story. Our dog’s story tends to define them or at least many of us think so. For example I adopted my dog Otis nine years ago and he was for a lack of a better term a menace. Otis ran away from home many times, fought other dogs when given the chance, got into everything including rat poison and when over excited would hump anything and everyone. Honestly, an entire blog post could be written about how naughty Otis really was. I even find myself when relating to clients bringing this story up over and over again. I actually find myself talking about his story all the time (even now I’m rambling about it!). What I lack to communicate is how far he has come in training and how well rounded of a dog he is. Many of my clients have seen Otis in their lessons when he is helping their own dog. He is also wonderful around large groups of people and children and loves the dogs in our home daycare and pack hikes. Why as dog guardians ( I hate saying owner) are we always willing to revert back to “my dog was so bad”, or ” he was abused thats why he’s the way he is”. Whether our dogs were so naughty when they were young or have had a troubled past we need to start recognizing how wonderful they are now.
It is our job as dog guardians to build our dogs up not constantly bring them down. By repeating your dog’s story over and over again without adding what chapter in their life they are in now does not set them up for a successful future. Just because your dog used to bark at strangers and only does it every once and awhile now, start celebrating that particular every once and awhile that they did not bark. Just because Otis still gets into the trash when he can and barks at the doorbell, does not mean that he isn’t one of the easiest dogs to clicker train, and an amazing assistant in my training lessons. I personally cherish the moments when I see his growth so why don’t I start talking about them more?
Begin letting go of what your dog was, and celebrate when they’ve become. Try not to just celebrate to yourself, share it on social media, tell family and friends and be proud of the dog you have put so much work into. If your dog has had a rough past and can be fearful, try not to blame every time they are fearful on their past. Instead of saying “My dog is nervous of men because she was beat by a man”. Try approaching it as “She can be nervous but she has come so far and we are so proud of her attempts!”. Simple steps in recognizing you and your dogs hard work will bring you closer in the end.
Now go love on your dog and tell them how wonderful they are!