Okay anyone that knows me knows this isn’t true I mean look at him! – but I’m not afraid to admit anymore that there have been times where I just didn’t like my dog.
Tough times where the connection with him had gone. Where it felt personal. Felt like I was doing everything I could but for some reason he was holding it against me. That he didn’t actually like me.
Sounds crazy right?
Well it isn’t. Because I know sooo many people with sensitive/anxious dogs that have gone through exactly the same thing. So if that’s you reading this I want you to know that you aren’t alone. We have all had those thoughts and they are perfectly normal when you are tired, stressed and overwhelmed. Please give yourself permission to have felt them, don’t feel guilty, and then just let it go. Like take a deep breath, and then breeeeeeath that shit out.
I will EVEN admit that I felt pretty low just a couple of weeks ago. We had some real issues crop up, Buddy was spilling over in terms of his bucket and one small little thing happened that really REALLY upset me. And I started to question EVERYTHING ALL over again. My amazing friend and trainer even received a barrage of text messages from me and I feel very lucky to have someone that I can do that with – someone that understands.
Am I the right person for this dog? Will he ever be able to control his emotions? Am I doing the best? Could I do better? I’m a failure. I don’t have the skills for this. He’s better off with someone else.
But once I picked myself up again, and stared into that beautiful dog’s eyes. I know that yes I AM the right person for my dog, I raised a child for Christ’s sake I CAN do this! So I got myself a one to one with my trainer and we went back to basics, stripped it ALL back to look at where I might need to tweak some stuff.
I also looked at things logically. I invest time and a lot of time and money into Buddy’s training. Of course I am doing the best for him. Of course there are going to be days when something slips or goes wrong. But ultimately look how far he has come!
- He no longer has separation issues that were quite severe in lockdown
- He will sleep in a crate OR a pen (which he needs as he just cant settle right now around noise and movement)
- He no longer reacts to the TV (bye bye subtitles)
- He has NEARLY stopped his obsessive repetitive behaviour of spinning under the lampshade (damn you flies and lampshade) Carefully managed by just not letting him do it.
- Okay so he still reacts to cars and occasionally people. But the ratio of people reactions is getting better. Still no problems with dogs so I am totally managing that optimism! And I know I need to invest more time in confidence training and less time putting him in any of these situations.
- He jumps in the car when I ask (used to have to lift him/bribe him)
- He cuddles and loves a massage and actively seeks me out regularly. I am his best friend in the world and I really feel privileged as he finds it so so hard to trust people. No he’s NOT a rescue and nothing bad has ever happened to him, it’s just his nervous personality. But this is why and where people can feel so very dejected.
- He reacts to far less things now, like the hoover, the wood burner, the garage door, people coming and going. Lots of things he used to bark and lunge at.
Sometimes I look at him and my heart almost explodes. He really is the most beautiful and sweet natured dog. So loving and cuddly. It does break my heart at how scared his is of the world and I really want to do EVERYTHING I can to make sure that I help him feel safe and as relaxed as possible.
After putting in some changes for almost two weeks solid (and they will need to continue long term no getting complacent Sam!) I have had three days straight of almost no barking at noises, the house is sooooo quiet. It’s the biggest improvement we have had so far. But I need to be ON TOP of the training for this to continue. For Buddy’s sake, and to continue to help mould that brain into an optimistic pup! (and also realise there WILL be off days and to brush myself off and get the f*** up!).
Have you got a dog that reacts to noises and movement? You can check out my previous blog for some training tips – but please do get in touch with a trainer as it’s a combination of training that will ultimately work. Here’s a link to mine.
If you are feeling like I did then please do come and join our emotional support group over on facebook too where we share our wins, and can talk freely about how we are all feeling.