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Squirrel!

Author: Nicole Stewart | Date: May 22, 2014

I’m in the land of kids. I’ll admit it. But the movie “Up” is really cute. And the dog is really… well… dog.

What does that mean? Well, he can be doing one thing, and out of the blue, out pops a fast moving rodent. Snap! Just like that, everything he was doing is completely out of his mind, and all that has replaced it is the sight of the squirrel.

Squirrel!

I strongly believe that we need to see our dogs for who they are, rather than who we want them to be. So, when I saw the dog from “Up”, I thought, “Finally! A real (albeit animated) dog!”

The issue is that, in our minds, we have the dog that we have always wanted OR the dog that we had before, but in front of us is the dog we have. In my mind, accepting him or her for who they are and loving them anyway is one of the biggest keys to truly making them part of your family.

For example, I had a Golden Retriever who was truly the dog I always wanted my kids to grow up with. She was solid, confident, deferent, liked to play when we were playing, liked to hang out when we were hanging out, and she brought joy to just about every person who met her. She was my “kid” before kids.

I can just hear my current dog Finlay, “Denver, Denver, Denver!”

Remember Jan Brady?

Finlay is awesome in many ways, but he has some quirks that are not things I would have picked if I had that luxury. The biggest one is that Finlay is a resource-guarder. What does that mean? He will guard a bone, food-filled Kong, or food bowl if given a chance. This instinct is a smart survival strategy, but unattractive when he lives in my home with two kids. I used all my training skills to modify this behavior, and it’s much better, but the truth is that I can never assume that a certain situation won’t elicit that behavior again.

So, we manage him. We keep bones picked up when kids are around, we teach our kids to read his anxious body language, we leave him alone when he eats, and we always keep him separate from the kids if my husband or I can’t watch them together.

Is that ideal? No. But that’s the dog I have. I love him for so many other things (he’s an awesome cuddler!) that to put him in a position that he can’t handle because I WANT him to be more confident and durable just isn’t fair.

For the record, dogs are pretty good at accepting us with all our human “flaws”, so why shouldn’t we reciprocate?

Just something to think about.

What does your dog do that you accept rather than try to change?

 


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