I want to tell you a story. Brace yourself. It’s not very exciting, but it is important. This story popped into my mind when our friends at High Fives for K9’s posted this little ditty on Instagram:
“what if who your dog is, was directly dependent on who you are?”
Read that again, and let it sink in before you move on to my unexciting tale. Maybe read it a third time … out loud … in the mirror.
Once upon a time, I had a little Jack Russell. A little, very independent (never an ounce, not one single one, of separation anxiety) and outgoing Jack Russell. We’ll call her Andy to protect her identity. Andy had a luxating patella and needed surgery. Basically a knee rebuild surgery.
Andy went for surgery and things went well. She spent recovery time at work with me for the first week or so. She learned how to use her new joint and it was healing nicely. Then it came time for me to leave her at home while I went to work. I panicked mildly (well, maybe a little more than mildly), and worried about how she would be … at home … by herself … in a room far away from me.
I worried and worried. Then she started to worry. The dog who would prefer the house to herself started to worry about me leaving. She would bark, whine and throw herself at the door when I left to go anywhere. She was in a bedroom, to minimize her movements, and previously would have loved the closed, free time away from everyone. She was SUPER friendly, but just enjoyed her “me time” more than being social. Her “me time” now turned into worry time. Her “me time” was turning into separation anxiety.
This, my friends, as it turns out, was all completely my fault. I projected my worry about her recovery and leaving her alone onto her, and she, in turn, projected it right back in my face, loud and clear … in a very Jack Russell type of way. Thank god I recognized this fact sooner than later. I then started to make a point of faking it, like it was no big deal that she was there and I was leaving … so far away. I faked it until I made it permanent in my mind that it was no big deal. And guess what? It took her all of a couple days to also realize that it was no big deal, and she returned to her former confident, social but not too social self.
This was a lightbulb moment … the moment I truly realized that what you send out, you get back (kids and dogs alike). You are part of the big picture as to who your dog is. You affect behaviour, both good and bad, many times without realizing it. Granted some dogs are born with a screw or two loose, but so many times, if we just took a step back, we could fix our dogs issues by working on our own. And there is ZERO downfall of working on our own issues as it only serves to make us stronger, in turn helping our dogs to become stronger and be the best they can be.
Some dogs can’t be helped because their people aren’t ready to be helped. You can do all the training in the world on one end of the leash, but if we don’t work on the other end, the results are mediocre at best. So help yourself, help your dog. I promise, even slight mind shifts to the positive can have drastic results on behaviour.
And they lived happily ever after. The end.