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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How badly do you want it?

First, don't give up.

Granted, your dog is a mess.  Her behavior isn't what you'd expected or planned.  She can't hold a candle to your previous dog of the same breed.  She's an embarrassment at dog class.  She's difficult or impossible to take out in public because she wants to eat every other dog.

Not every kid is as "perfect" as the last one either.  They're all different.   And here's the first good news:  They all bless us in unique ways.  The more difficult they are to handle, the more we are blessed with opportunities to overcome, to learn patience, to be creative, to be humbled, and to grow.  
You may never get much of an education in dog behavior and training if you have a dog who is easy to train and easy to live with.

Now, here's the second bit of good news:  Your dog's behavior can be improved.  Whether it's hyperactivity, housebreaking problems, aggression, separation anxiety or destructive behavior, the problem can be helped and often even eliminated.  There's no one solution for every dog problem, any more than there's one way to treat cancer or one way to address the nation's economic crisis.  Usually the problem will be mitigated by using a combination of methods.  Your challenge is to find the right methods and stick with them.

Of course, it's much easier to give up and get rid of the dog.  After all, you didn't bargain for this type of behavior, and you don't have time for it.  You got a dog to de-stress your life, not to add stress to it.  Don't forget, however, that if you pass this dog onto someone else, they'll be inheriting your problems, and the dog may be even worse in his second, third, or fourth home.

So here's the thing:  if you want this dog to work out, and if you want it badly enough, it can happen.  It won't be easy.  You may have to spend 500% more time with your dog than you currently do.  You may have to learn some new rules of engagement.  You may have to buy some special training collars or devices.  You may have to commit yourself to learning more about canine behavior.  You may have to accept this dog as a special project.  Perhaps she will never be the dog you dreamed she'd be...but perhaps she'll be 1000 times better because of the extra work she requires.

When I adopted my pit bull puppy, I committed myself to having the best behaved, best socialized dog in town.  It meant going for several lengthy leash walks a day, carting her around town to expose her to everything, taking her to a variety of training classes, and demanding excellence of her.  Because I had a dog that would be under more public scrutiny than a typical  golden retriever, I was more motivated to help her succeed.  I met my goals, but the commitment continues.  Her exercise is still an integral part of my structured day.  I have benefitted from that as much as she has!

How badly do you want your dog to be the dog of your dreams?  Desire is the greatest motivator.  You can make it happen.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

You are so right Jan, that person you were explaining was me to the tee. I finally decided I just had to get control,like you said who would want him, I am so glad I did he is turning out to be the best dog and we are building a very close relationship I am so glad I didn't give up and I almost did. Steel and I thank you for your help.