I couldn’t resist referring to the film…(if you haven’t seen ‘The Life of Brian‘, I’d definitely recommend it-although, according to my nearest and dearest: if I recommend a book or a film it’s better to steer clear of it)
One of my favourite scenes is Brian trying to reason with his followers:
Brian Called Brian: You don’t need to follow me! You don’t need to follow anybody! You got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals! You’re all different!
Man: I’m not…
I have always believed all dogs are unique and need to be treated as individuals.
Well, Brian is a fearful dog. Which means he needs a lot of patience. Which also means I need to control my emotions and never let him know there’s anything in the world to be afraid of when he’s around me. Brave face and so on. That’s the easy part. But I wouldn’t want anyone to think it’s all fun and cuddles. Watching your dog being terrified because someone’s approaching, seeing the heart-breaking fear in his eyes when he’s dealing with most natural, everday situations is hard.
The first weeks of a dogs life are vital in his socialisation. If he doesn’t interact with people then, he’ll never be an easy-going, people-friendly, inquisitive and playful family dog. (By the way, this is a common problem of dogs from puppy farms -and they are definitely not advertised as fearful, needing a lot of work and requiring a behaviourist).
The thing is, I don’t mind. I don’t care that much if people understand it or not, I do ask them not to approach him if he looks really scared. All the training we do is to make sure he can function in our human reality and to reduce his stress as much as possible. The fact I expose him to things he’s scared of doesn’t mean I do it with no consideration for how it’ll affect him. It’s slow, gradual and controlled. He’s got a way out. I try to provide role models whenever possible (a calm and non-reactive dogs). The life of Brian is always going to be ‘training’. Though his training would probably be described as a therapy rather than a way to make him please people.
Anyway: ‘always look on the bright side of life‘ 🙂