Don’t Sweat It

I am a long-term dog lady but, hon­estly, I’ve strug­gled in the dog world for many years.  I really enjoy dogs, not in a “they’re really cute and I want to pet them” way but in an “I’m com­pletely fas­ci­nated by every aspect of them and want to under­stand how they tick on a deep level” kind of way.  And I’m not just dri­ven by dogs, I love life, behav­ior, rela­tion­ships, and this mag­i­cal mirac­u­lous hurdling-through-time-and-space rock that we’re so lucky to live on.  Learn­ing about dogs is just an exten­sion of that pas­sion… a very deep extension.

I’m not a com­pet­i­tive per­son.  I don’t worry much about what peo­ple think of me and fall more into the let-it-go #Make­Li­keElsa cat­e­gory, so I’ve never really felt that I fit into the sport dog world or the, often very seri­ous (or totally the oppo­site “it’s a doggy utopia, what could pos­si­bly go wrong?”), pet dog world either.   I have always believed the best part of me with dogs to be more on the side of curios­ity, explo­ration, and play.  Once some­thing becomes about win­ning, an ends-justify-the-means sit­u­a­tion, it loses me.  Get­ting my dog to respond to me when needed to expand our free­doms always felt more like a game than a con­test, and that is the way I hope it stays.

There are absolutely prob­lems that are seri­ous and that is most of what I do really, “prob­lem dogs”, but I think my suc­cess in that area comes from my “oops let’s try that again” atti­tude and not from my cor­rect­ing any “wrongs”.

Resolv­ing behav­ior prob­lems is still a game, where the dog and I exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent things until we find some­thing that works for us both.  This allows a lot of ego releas­ing, reduced stress, and made me a much bet­ter dog trainer.

I do still get rage-ey some­times with other pet pro­fes­sion­als (there’s a dif­fer­ence between let­ting go and refus­ing to embrace learn­ing and improve­ment) for the most part I am able to let it go.

So my advice is to take it a lit­tle easy with your own dog.  The thing that most hurts my heart is see­ing dog own­ers feel shame, embar­rass­ment, and guilt about their dog’s behav­ior.  In the words of myself, which I utter all too often, “it’s a dog”.  You only have a short time together on this earth, far too lit­tle time to beat your­self up about your dog’s behav­ior and much much too lit­tle time to waste energy on bur­den­some emo­tions that you could instead chan­nel that into learn­ing, grow­ing, and enjoy­ment together.

So I implore you, work your dog, build those skills, and change behav­ior, but don’t be a weirdo about it.

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