Wow! Great question! Doggie folks may not realize what a common question this is from pet parents with new puppies or with dogs experiencing behavior issues. My answer is almost always YES! I answer this question so often, I decided to write a blog about it. Let’s face it, without mixing canines into the mix, life is full of challenges that must be dealt with every single day. When humans bring a new doggie home, they may not expect a multitude of difficult issues coming from the wonderful little fur-baby that was love at first sight. It can be very emotional and in some cases it can be heartbreaking.
I wanted to share a few stories in case readers can relate to some of the overwhelming circumstances! Note certain details have been changed to protect the individuals and doggies in the stories, but the overall message will be the same .
A wonderful man contacted me to enroll in puppy school. He had a very stressful job and worked long shifts. He had just gotten a divorce and shared custody of a young son. This particular man had moved from a house to a busy apartment complex where walking a puppy could involve a few more challenges than walking in a neighborhood. He had not had a dog since he was a child, so the volume of puppy challenges took him completely by surprise.
When I met him, he was so stressed. He had not chosen the puppy. To add to his stress, he had received the puppy as a well-intentioned gift for his son , and the puppy lived with him 100% of the time. Within the first five minutes into our session, he put his hands over his face and asked “Do other people go through this?” I was able to give him a great deal of comfort that yes, other people, many many other people, struggle with puppy zoomies, pulling, chewing, nipping, jumping, potty training, on and on. One of the first things we had to work on was having the humans practice relaxing around the puppy. Creating routines so parents can manage child and canine excitement (and fear in some cases) is not always easy, but we worked on that together. In this case, before starting the actual dog training, it was important for him to take a breath and anticipate the problems, so he was not so taken back. I had to work on setting him up for success before we began the puppy’s training journey! As of the day of blog publishing, life for all has improved greatly! He has a much better understanding of why puppies do what they do and how obedience and management can help! Happy to say – puppy love has blossomed!
Can you relate?
Newly Married and New Puppy
A lovely couple contacted me that had been married less than six months. Just before getting married, the husband’s 15 year old dog had passed away. After getting married, he begged his new wife to allow him to bring a new puppy into the home. He promised that he would be 100% responsible for the puppy. The reason you ask – she was not a dog person. If she was not a dog person in general, it would be safe to assume she was absolutely not going to be a puppy person. Yet the wife agreed, and the husband happily picked out a puppy of the same breed as the dog that he had just lost.
Well, by the time I received the call, they were on the brink of divorce. Am I kidding – no – unfortunately. I explained to the wonderful couple that dog ownership is very personal, and that means training is very personal. As it relates to canine behavior, what bothers one human may not bother the next human. Some humans are very strict, and some humans are not. Take me for example, at my house, very few things that my dogs do bother me. There are a handful of things but not many. For example, my dogs are allowed in every room and on all furniture. That is because I love them with me wherever I go. Not all humans want dogs on the furniture, or in the bed, or in the kitchen, or absolutely not in the bathroom hahaha. The husband in this case was like me. Again, when I arrived, the couple was very sad for a variety of reasons and very frustrated. As in the first story above, the husband put his hands over his face in our first meeting and asked “Do other people go through this?” My answer was YES! This story is very common for newlyweds or really any circumstance where two people find themselves cohabitating in a new environment. This can happen with new roommates or even parents that move in with their children later in life. It took education and compromise, but I am happy to report that the love birds lived happily ever after. I still see the puppy (now adult) from time to time just to say hi. These folks became wonderful friends!
Can you relate?
Dreams of a Leisurely Walk Around the Lake
A very delightful couple contacted me because their new shelter dog pulled so hard on walks that the wife injured her arm. To make matters more difficult, the couple felt embarrassed while walking around humans. They were convinced their neighbors thought they were terrible pet parents and were not able to control their dog. Because of this embarrassment, at our first meeting, the wife had tears in her eyes when she asked “Do other people go through this?” Again, my reply was YES! I told them story after story about dogs that pull and why each case was different. The very first thing I had to address in this situation was the stigma they felt when walking in front of the neighbors’ houses. Embarrassment should not be in the picture at all. While it is true the couple probably encountered dogs on their walks around the lake that walked calmly by their pet parent, I explained to them that no human is perfect and no canine is perfect. Their dream of adopting a dog and taking relaxing walks after work would be very possible! I educated them on the many reasons some dogs pull and others may not. Knowledge is power! I also told them what wonderful people they were for taking a shelter dog into their home to love. All shelters dogs have a history. Most did not end up in a shelter because their lives were wonderful. The history I speak of can result in many issues that could present challenges. Once they were equipped with a good bit of knowledge and a sprinkle of guidance, they were able to enjoy their walks. The walks may not be as dreamed of originally, but the walks became joyous for all after a bit of work, compassion, and understanding (on both sides). It was the birth of a new and very special dream that continues!
Can you relate?
If you can relate to any of these stories, I want you to know that there are many many more stories that can support my YES answer! Just thinking through writing this blog made me realize how important support is to pet parents going through canine challenges. So with that said, I will be rolling out an online discussion in June (hopefully) where I can share even more stories along with describing the pet parents’ successes and setbacks. Understanding what can go right, what can go wrong, and why is so important! I also hope to roll out a Facebook group designed to allow pet parents struggling with canine behavior issues to support each other and know – they belong to a big club of dog lovers!
Til next time!