Thinking of A Dog’s Needs Before My Own

Annyong, my new dog

Annyong, my new dog

I recently had an owner I had been working with surrender her 2 year old German Shepherd. He was very challenging & she was not cut out to handle such a difficult dog. It happens & I won’t fault her for it. I applaud her for making the tough decision to follow through with the old adage “if you love something set it free…”. The dog was a bite waiting to happen & she needed to give him away to save his life. So, I have a new dog. I expected him to be more challenging than he has been so far. To be honest, I think he’s a bit shell shocked right now. When he gets more comfortable he’ll come out of his shell & start to test me a bit.

So this dog had been OBSESSED with his previous owner. Now he does not need me to love him up so he replaces one addiction with another. To feed him a normal amount of attention would be disastrous for him. So I give him an occasional kiss or two here & there. I haven’t said more than a few words to him. I changed his name so I say his name a few times a day. And I’m teaching him “go potty” in a certain spot in the yard. That’s about it. So he’s more apt to listen to me when I do speak. We all know plenty of people that never shut up and we tune them out, right? So because I’m not filling his head with constant chatter I have his full attention when I do speak.

This dog does not need love right now. He needs peace, stability & lots of structure. Tough love so he learns independence & that he can stand on his own 4 paws. When he is in a better place, I will gradually give him love, making sure it doesn’t excite him too much. Preventing him from transferring his obsession from one owner to the next. I have to be a bit distant. I can do this though. Every time he starts to panic & obsess over me I shut down all emotions & eye contact. He’s doing well, better than expected by a long shot. Our few kisses so far have been delightful! I can’t wait for more! But this isn’t about me & my needs right now. This is about him & his.

poodleI had a 9 month old poodle pup recently in. Had been with owners only a few months. Left the breeder at like 5 months. Why so late? Was he returned? Planned on breeding, but they had problems & decided to sell him? I don’t remember the answer, but those questions went through my mind. But the crux of the matter is he was acting out at home- in his new home without any dogs. He was impossible to walk & would react when he saw a dog, pulling & clamoring, making a scene when he didn’t get his way. What did this dog need? Did he need to learn commands & walk nicely on a loose leash? Yes. But I believe if you give the dog what he NEEDS, he gives you back tenfold what you WANT- attention, respect, obedience, manners. So instead of working him on leash a lot day 1, I worked him a bit so he wasn’t so resistant & was a bit connected to me. Then I brought him into the day care to give him what he needed- to be back with dogs! He’d lived with a pack of dogs for his first 5 months & then isolated from dogs the next 4. That’s a huge component why he was behaving so poorly. By giving him some play time, he was then able to shake off some pent up energy & frustration & then I was able to get him to pay attention to me on the next walk a hundred times better.

winnieOver the summer an owner came to me with her dog that was impossible to walk. He pulled like crazy, especially when he saw another dog. And because the dog was so impossible to walk, she didn’t walk him. She just found it easier to leave him in the fenced in yard. So that bandaid didn’t last long. As the dog became more & more frustrated in the yard, he one day climbed the fence & attacked another dog. And another, and another. The fact that he was being confined to a huge fenced in yard was the root of all of this. Dogs aren’t meant to live behind 4 walls any more than we are as humans. It’s called house arrest & is a prison sentence. But too many dogs live like this day in & day out. And they bark & bark & bark… out of boredom & frustration. So this dog came to me & did I demand he focus on me 100% & learn a perfect heel & not to pull on the leash? Heck no. This poor dog hadn’t been out of his 4 walls in almost a year! So I took him for a long walk along the grassy area across the street from us. I let him sniff & sniff & sniff until his heart’s content. Eventually as he started to pull to sniff I squeezed the leash a bit & he stopped pulling. Repeated the process until he finally showed some interest in me & then built on that. The next walk I introduced food to him. So he would pull on the leash, I’d squeeze the leash tight & he’d come back. I’d immediately release the tension on the leash & give him some kibble. It took a day to get him to where I wanted him to be, but I felt I got more by starting off by giving. I gave him some freedom to explore & satisfy his need to sniff & take in nature. And he thanked me for it with some amazing attention & I now have a great new friend out of it. 🙂

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