On helplessness and independence

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Brian and Dolly

When a dog is punished for long enough for something he’ll stop. When he understands the punishment will come no matter what, he’ll stop fighting. He’ll become an obedient, deeply unhappy dog with fears that will one day escalate to the degree where he can’t control his behaviour.

I’ve seen so many of the helpless ones. The dogs, who had been shut in a bathroom or garage alone, yelped, whined, destroyed everything around them to gradually go quieter, more terrified and dumb with fear. They learn nothing. They are broken and damaged. And too scared to disobey.

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morning chase

When you give your dog a choice, he becomes independent. He’ll make decisions and his behaviour will be consistent. You’ll be able to trust him, even when you’re not there to tell him what to do.

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Brian gets happier every day

I’ve always wanted my dogs to be independent. I teach them to behave in a certain way because there’s some benefit for them in it. It’s good to be with me because I know the best places to go, chase other dogs and sniff around. It’s good to be with me because I’m fun, I distribute treats and cuddles generously. I swap half-chewed shoes and books for a tasty chewable treat. In a big, scary world, everyone needs a small, non-threatening Alex to run to.

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21 thoughts on “On helplessness and independence

  1. This is the truth. I have seen the difference between a dog that has been loved since a pup and one that was from a breeding farm. The pup loved dog is so calm and free and alert, able to be left at home for a short while when necessary… The poor other being so very damaged, that the moment it is left alone for only a few minutes becomes an immediately pooping on the floor, again feeling abandoned, lost soul.

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      1. and not only do you have to have patience, but the right set up for the dog: Someone that can be there, someone that knows how to… Trouble is, sometimes people think they can, but that other commitments prevent them from carrying out their desires to be the one to save the dog from the fears. Then they carry on with the fears of rejection and it all goes round again. Poor bastards all round. 😦

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  2. Great post. It’s that 5 letter word again ……. Trust. Carry on posting I like to see how they are growing and developing under your care. πŸ˜€πŸΆ

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    1. Unfortunately, I see people shouting at their dogs (‘Come here!!!!!’) pretty much every day. When the dogs comes cowering and shaking only to be smacked by the ‘owner’ I bite my tongue. Or not. I’m not patient with people.

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  3. You are precious Alex! In one of the above photos, it looks like your guy is springing into the air as he’s running! How much fun are they having?? It sounds like you’re talking about kids too. They too have to learn about independence and making the right choices, and me having to trust them! We need to respect all living beings!

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    1. As an adult I can appreciate the respect my parents showed me when I was ‘just a child’. I know dogs are not children, but everyone deserves respect. Children, adults, pets…

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  4. When I read your post I couldn’t help but think about Anna, the little lost dog I blogged about not long ago. She’s the perfect example of how dogs can be deeply damaged by humans. I look at our two dogs and I’m so happy that they will never have to suffer from neglect, abuse, or even an unloved feeling.
    I know your fur babies are equally fortunate to have you as their mom!

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  5. There is a dog out there who is my namesake? Nice to know! In order to grow independent, one has to make choices. It is called maturity, and it’s great to follow your story step by step, as Brian is maturing. He is doing it rather quickly, too, I am happy to see!

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