We all have a vision of our perfect little puppy growing up to be a confident, well socialised dog that loves everyone, humans and dogs and small children and grandmothers and motorbikes and birds and vacuum cleaners and men with walking sticks and shadows and squeaky doors and pill packets opening and ……
My perfect little puppy didn’t grow up to be that dog and the roller coaster that has been his 4 years of life has taught me more about dogs, dog training and how they learn and see the world than if i had ended up with that perfect dog. I have my boy to thank for that am grateful every day that I have him, issues and all.
I have not arrived at this place without drama… along the way there has been a lot of tears, blame, regrets, family arguments, desperation, laughing (because otherwise you cry..), forgiveness and acceptance both of him and our situation. I have also come to reaslise that not everyone who has a not so average dog has the resources and support to manage and train their dog concurrently.
It’s so simple for people to say ‘go get some training’ however along with training the first issue to address when taking on the challenge of training and rehabilitating a reactive or shy dog is management.
As their carer, trainer, friend and trusted human we are responsible for managing their life including (in no particular order, although the first one should probably be first…):
- Keeping others safe
- Potential hazards
- The environments they are exposed too
- Their stress levels
- And their recovery
Management is crucial in giving your dog the best chance at success. Of course management always fails. There will always be a freak storm, a slamming door, a gate that didn’t quite close, or that lovely person who lets their dog off the leash in the on-lead park. Management is not easy, so here we go….