It’s easy to fantasize about Next Dog who will be perfect. Or nearly perfect. Especially when you’re struggling with a training issue. But instead being caught in that trap, it’s important to focus on the here and now and the dog(s) you currently have.
Mr. N and I suit each other very well for the most part. I enjoy having a driven, energetic dog who regularly tries to outsmart me. He’s one of those dogs that genuinely wants to be good and takes pleasure in being right so I’ve never had issues dire enough to consider re-homing him or anything drastic but I admit he’s driven me to tears once or twice.
|Mr. N posing with the treats at Cycle Dog|
He is leash reactive towards other dogs and has a moderate case of separation anxiety. I think most of my frustration with his reactivity stems from sheer embarrassment. I put hours and hours into his training and when he barks and lunges at another dog out of frustration, it looks like he’s one of those stereotypical yappy purse dogs. We’ve worked and worked and he has made huge leaps and strides and he is much better than he used to be and I harbor hope that he will be “almost cured” one day.
His separation anxiety is fear-based, however, and it’s heart wrenching. When we first adopted him, he would go into a sheer panic attack and bark almost incessantly the entire time I was gone. It’s hard to leave the house knowing that your dog is freaking out over your absence. And he’s not even one of the hardcore cases where he is being self-destructive or tearing things apart to try to get to me. These days, he’ll mostly bark on and off for a few minutes and then settle down to nap and watch the window for my return.
Our flaws and our experiences make us who we are. Mr. N survived a barren puppy-hood that had no toys, no socialization and no love and attention. His issues derive from that period, I think. I can’t blame him for being terrified of being left alone when he was left alone for so long that he never knew if anyone was coming back for him. When he was so under-socialized that when he went into foster care, he was a wisp of a dog that had to be taught everything from scratch as an adult. He is slowly getting past his past and now he’s a dog that overflows with joie de vivre and is always ready for an adventure.
I do think occasionally about my mythical next dog that will be well-socialized and have toy drive and can stay home alone without flipping out. But Mr. N is the almost perfect dog for my now and I wouldn’t replace him for all the issue-free and perfect dogs in the world. And we work constantly on his “issues” because it will improve his quality of life as well as mine.
Besides if Mr. N was perfect, he’d be insufferable. Nobody likes perfect people. Or dogs. They’re too hard to live with. Love the one you’re with.
|I’m pretty sure Mr. N thinks he’s perfect. More perfect than any of these dogs anyway!|
Welcome to First Monday’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below. Any positive reinforcement training posts or comments are also always welcome. The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop goes all week long. Our next hop will begin Monday, August 3rd and continues for a week. The August theme is becoming a better trainer and fixing our training failures.