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Do You Feel Like you have let your dog down?

Author; Caroline Spencer Behaviourist for Bella and Duke

So you’ve got a puppy or a dog with problems or just struggling to see the wood from the trees?

Some of this may ring true with you…

You may have been removed from a class or made an example of and gone home in tears, disbelief or anger and feeling that you’re not cut out to be the person your dog needs. No idea where now to turn, you feel that you’ll have to re-home your dog.

You may have had this particular breed all your life, but never one like this and the usual stuff isn’t working.

You’ve had so much conflicting advice from some many well-meaning people and are completely confused as to the way forward.

You may have had a trainer or behaviourist over to help you and you’re feeling even more confused than before.

You’ve read so much on the internet that’s conflicting and you’re even more confused than you were to begin with.

Your dog will mirror you. Even if you’re are acting calm, they can smell your distress in the adrenaline your pumping out.

Stop ….. Breath …. Relax ….

Your dog will pick up on your frustration and despair. Your inconsistencies are having just the same effect on your dog. He’s just as confused as you and feeling rather vulnerable.

IMO and experience its best to stop training for a behaviour or training away from a behaviour but to actually embrace the fact that your dog is communicating to you. Dogs need to go through behaviours and guided with patience towards choosing their own behaviour that is acceptable to us, other people and dogs they meet. By giving them the power to choose a natural calm behaviour with your help, they will do it.

(I don’t teach the sit, I’ve never seen a dog ask this of another, so for a dog, what is the point? For us, the point is control, but why control when you can guide to self-control and patience?) If a dog won’t sit in a room of other dogs, that’s not the dogs fault. It’s not the right place for him. Explanation: – If a dog is made to sit in a group of other dogs or in a wide open space, then you are disabling his communication signals So, remember dogs communicate to others how they feel at any given moment by what they do, if you ask a dog to sit in either of the above environments, they can’t communicate, they can’t be a dog. This results in the dog feeling vulnerable and he may either; walk back to you, jump up and go over the top in panic, face away from you, slink off under a table or chair or even bite.

So please don’t beat yourself up or let anyone do that for you.

If your dog won’t learn the way you teach then teach the way he will learn and that’s simply Natural canine Communication. Stop people pushing you to control an animal that doesn’t want controlling, but wants to be a dog and simply fit into your world knowing you’re his guide and support to help him make good decisions when things get a bit hairy.

So pick yourself up off the floor and look at your dog with new eyes. He’s not naughty, he’s just chatting to you, well shouting probably, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Believe in yourself. Slow down and remember to go at your dogs learning speed and capabilities not your expectations or others for that matter. Your dog is as much as an individual as you are.

2 responses to “Do You Feel Like you have let your dog down?

  1. Thank you for this very reassuring piece!
    I have recently signed up to and attended 4 out of 6 puppy classes but found my little boy hated it! All the other puppies sat around or hid under the chairs but mine just wanted to play and would not sit for love nor money! I felt that it was my fault, and then I read your article and boy am I relieved! The teacher made me feel inadequate and my puppy deemed to be naughty!
    I will not be returning to the class and will work with him directly as you suggest!

  2. I bought this book after Caroline’s last post here, and overnight changed the behaviour of my lovely, loving, but “in-yer-face” boisterous 12 month old. It’s super-kind to both dog and owner and super-clear. I learnt that my dog, far from being “dominant” or “just a puppy” as I kept getting told, was actually overwhelmed. He has responded soooo quickly to these wonderful, compassionate yet simple techniques. I am thrilled because I still don’t have to tell my dog off or boss him about, My previous attempts to “catch him doing things right” using reward-based approaches, seemed to work when he was younger, but more recently all the things I thought I was insuring against started getting worse!! With Caroline’s gentle approach my dog is making better choices than I dared aim for in my previous micro-managment approach! In just a few days the barrelling up to everything and everyone has changed to spectacularly well-timed politeness, and every few days the range of situations where he makes these astonishingly good choices is increasing. All we are doing is following the simple, kind, gentle instructions. An unintended and magnificent bonus is that the way this book is written connects with those around us who do in fact subscribe to the more shout-y bossy approach to dog handling, because it gives clear tools in the face of unwanted behaviour. This is clever because the tools actually create a space for the dog to be more itself, rather than subjugating the dog, as Caroline points out in this blog. This bonus means I can get collaboration from people who literally don’t believe in dog training, just dog obedience. I can be gracious to the humans, which is kind, and my dog is protected, which is kind, and my dog has someone he can trust – me! Every day brings new joys for us both. Very very grateful indeed to Caroline and to Bella and Duke for partnering with her.

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