Now before you panic, Buddy is still here, I haven’t given him up! But the reason I set this Blog up in the first place was to share my REAL training journey and our relationship struggles.
I want to HELP people who have been, or are, in the same position as me.
There are a lot of us out there! And a lot of us are scared to admit it.
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I am a bit of a smart arse, honestly not afraid to admit it. Not in a nasty ‘haha – I’m better than you way’ but in a ‘I want to know EVERYTHING’ way. Everyone I’ve ever worked with tell you that – I take absolute joy in figuring something out.
So, the idea of getting a dog, not only as a family pet, but as a hobby, training, agility, you name it, I was totally pumped!
I work from home and something was really missing – I’d been feeling a bit deflated and not sure where I was going. I jumped in and went for a Border Collie. I had a Collie Cross as a kid who was amazing, as well as a Springer Spaniel and a mixed rescue dog. My hubby also had a Collie as a kid – who was nuts.
I KNOW they are working dogs, I KNOW they need training – I didn’t realise however just how ‘special’ some of them can be. Not ALL. But some.
I have a SPECIAL one. Ha-ha! Sorry Buddy – meant in the nicest way.
It might (or might not) shock you to know I have had the conversation with my husband about 5 or 6 times as to whether WE are the right family for him and whether he should be with someone else. Even up until this last week in fact it STILL crossed my mind.
Somewhere he could have less distractions, no cats or children.
You know what though, When it comes to anything in life, the hardest person on you, is YOU. Once you start to let go a little of your own high expectations, things do become a little easier. If you are already working hard and looking for answers, then your dog is in the right place. Just imagine if they ended up in a resuce and went to a family that gave up on them easier than you? Your dog might not be the perfect family dog you always wanted right now, but no one is perfect! And there IS a solution I promise.
So for me the hard work started when he was a puppy.
It was hard. Seriously hard. I could handle the training, the toileting, the early mornings, all the things I KNEW I would be able to handle as I had DONE all my research.
He was following me around, coming to me and listening to cues in the first two weeks. Toilet training was cracked all through the day and night not long after. Slept from 10pm to 6.30am every night all the way through. That part was a dream! I was also taking him everywhere, the pub, the shops, the school run, throwing him into lots of situations as I had been taught to.
But the anxiousness, the nipping, the zoomies, the relentless biting, the demand barking, the constant go go go. The barking when I left a room. Barking when I entered the room. Barking, barking, barking. Oh, and did I mention the biting?
Now a lot of this, looking back, could have been avoided by using the crate more effectively, using boundaries more effectively, and promoting a lot more CALM. Puppies like to play right? So we play, play, played, all the time. We had a toy box. He was constantly in over arousal. Free access to toys, long walks to ‘tire’ him out. He managed to rehearse a lot of unwanted behaviours. Sleeping where he wanted (which he wasn’t actually doing as he was so aroused by movement) He was becoming what we allowed him to.
At this time, I had a bit of a breakdown to be fair. I put my hands up and said I wasn’t cut out for this. I would be in tears at night. Burst into tears when friends asked if I was okay. Despite training every week. Despite all my research. I felt useless. And honest to god, you will not meet many people more determined than me. I throw myself into everything I do.
I felt like total shit.
But I tried hard to get my head around it. This was a DOG for gods sake. I have managed to birth and raise a child! SURELY I could do this.
I yo-yo’d for a while in emotions. One day he was the best dog in the world. The next he was going back!
If you go and take a look online, you will find forums FULL of people going through this. Right up until their dogs are 1-2 years old. There was however NOTHING useful in there. A lot of horrible put downs, and a lot of ‘it will get better’, or ‘he will grow out of it’, or even worse, horrible methods suggested of how to get your dog to OBEY you, to ‘nip it in the bud’. I could not for the life of me figure out where I was going wrong.
If you are reading this right now, and you are ‘in it’ you are seriously not alone. Admit it to someone. Let it out. Don’t bottle it up. The first step to getting yourself on track is releasing how you are feeling and accepting that it’s totally normal. There is nothing wrong with you, or your dog for that matter, its simply the methods and the approach you are using.
When you get a puppy for the first time, your expectations of a fluffy bundle of joy may not be met. The sense of loss of freedom, when YOU might be the one doing all of the looking after and training. YOU are the one watching them like a hawk, trying to understand them, while everyone else in the family is going about their usual day. (a bit harsh as hubby does a lot, and he does have to go out to work, but ya know, still FEELS like it!)
It really is just enough to make you lose your shit – ALL the time.
Also, after having my son, who is now nearly 11, I think I also suffered with un-diagnosed post natal depression, which makes me much more susceptible to this very real thing commonly known as ‘puppy blues’.
So. What happened next? How did I overcome these struggles and improve my relationship with my dog?
You can find out in my part 2 blog here!
Please just know that you aren’t alone – there IS a way through that works.
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