Success redefined

If you don’t know where you’re going how will you know you’re there?

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happy Lily makes me happy

A dog is not a tool to fix our loneliness, lack of confidence, emotional problems or lack of fulfillment in life. Dogs can do all of that, but it’s more a bonus than a reason for getting one. If you want to be happy, just be. Get a dog only if you want a dog.

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Everyone might have a different idea of what a perfect dog is. All my dogs have been perfect. For me. They had issues and we’ve always tried to sort them out. I know what I want from my dog and I’m ready to pay the price to get it. I want my dog to be happy and reasonably well-behaved. So if they want to bark, bite, jump at people, chew things at home, be with me every minute of the day, protect their bowl or toys, wee in the house, eat things not considered to be edible or do anything I don’t particularly approve of, I invest my time, energy and money to change it, so we can both be happy.

First thing I do is think. How much do I want the behaviour to change? I can let my dogs bark (in the park, to acknowledge someone at the door), chase birds (when I know it’s safe for both the birds and the dog), chew (toys or treats for chewing). But they can’t bite any living creature. Not ever.

Then I think why the dog does what she does. Is it because she’s a dog (rolling in smelly stuff, eating even smellier stuff)? Or because of some issues (fear based aggression)? Lack of exposure and training (weeing in the house, attacking a vacuum cleaner)? Boredom (chewing, mouthing, howling)? Her personality (herding, chasing, guarding, digging)? Communication problems (people ignoring her growling, my unclear commands)?

When I think I have an idea of what I want and what she wants, I work on our strategy. To get something, I give something. Modifying behaviour is often about replacement. When I fail, I learn.

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So far, all my dogs have been happy and made me happy, fitting perfectly into my definition of success.

 

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21 thoughts on “Success redefined

    1. Oh, well, must be my past interfering πŸ˜‰ I used to teach young adults with behavioural issues. But people are more complex. And it’s much harder to make up for the fact they didn’t feel loved as children (even though dogs have their ‘formative period’ just like humans) Thank you for your wonderful comment πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What was the age range of the young adults you taught? In my school, we had ages 5 – 21, and the method of replacement / substitution only works with younger children or those with delayed development. I just find it incredibly insightful that you apply the same approach to dogs. Thank you for responding.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My grandmother used to say,”If you keep telling the child that he is an eagle, eventually he is going to fly. Nut if you tell him he is a pig, it won’t take long for him to start oinking. I know exactly what you mean, and even though we mainly targeted children suffering from various disorders, offering them unconditional love and giving them opportunities to feel like stars were two mainstays of our therapeutic approach. I am glad to hear that Lily is making progress!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Such a lovely attitude, I wish everyone would take the time to truly understand why and where behavior comes from and treat the problems with love and patience. Our dogs are a blessing in our lives and truly should be treated as part of the family. Beautiful article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely post. And I couldn’t agree more. Someone wise has told me that dogs and kids are mirrors of ourselves. If you are unhappy, frustrated, depressed, aggressive, or happy, whatever your mental/emotional state is, it will be reflected on them because they are pure and they love you. Getting a dog will not fix your problem. In fact, it will intensify it more for you to see and work on it. My dog and I may not be perfect but we are perfect for each other. Together we help each other to work on things. Compassion, understanding and consistency are powerful tools…

    Liked by 1 person

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