As a dog trainer in San Francisco, we spend a lot of time talking to people. Our approach and philosophy on dog training allows us to take an intimate look into the lives of the dogs that we train…and their owners.
Often times, when it comes to behavioral issues with dogs, we find the owners being upset, annoyed, stressed and/or frustrated. Some are apologetic or sadden. The one common denominator in all situations is that the owners love their dogs more than anything.
And that’s all right. That’s more than all right…that bond you share with your dog is magical! We want you to love your dog and give your dog affection. But we often hear things like, “well, he had a bad life prior to me rescuing him, so I spoil him.”
You HAVE to set rules and limits with your dog. To provide them with leadership, structure and guidance. You have to be their guardian and teach them what is right and wrong. Your dog not only wants that…he or she needs and craves that from you. When you “spoil” your dog, you are sending signals to them that they interpret as you not acting as a leader should.
Give that to them and I truly believe what dogs teach us in return is the greatest gift. That gift is sometimes easily overlooked because we, as humans, worry too much about what happened in the past. When it comes to your dogs behavioral challenge…you have two choices: 1) to acknowledge the behavior, but to turn it into an opportunity to move forward or 2) see the behavior as a problem and spend a lot of wasted time and energy worry about things that, quite frankly, don’t matter if you were to move forward.
If you are having behavioral issues with your dog, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at yourself and your own life. Are you stressed, yelling, anxious, always in a hurry? The hard truth is that the behavioral issues that we see in dogs are, the majority of the time, a direct result of things that are going on in their home environment.
I want you to look at these behavioral issues as opportunities rather than obstacles. Let your dog give you the gift of living in the moment…of taking a good, hard look at yourself and your own life and how you can grow and improve. Take breathe, relax. Get balanced and centered. Go for a walk in the rain and play and splash in puddles. Don’t sweat the things that, in the grand scheme of things, simply don’t matter.
It takes time…the process of rehabilitation is a journey. Just focus on moving forward and making the changes and improvements in your life…and your dogs.