Keep Going – The Dreaded “R” Word
“He’s reactive!?” It’s typically said with a tone of surprise, and sometimes, also with doubt. Yes, my adorable, brilliant, cuddly, sweet little red dog can, in the blink of an eye, turn into a snarling whirling teeth baring red blur at the end of his leash. If you haven’t seen it, I can understand how that might be difficult to picture. Brembo has definitely played a large part in guiding me towards my career as I sought education to be better for him. We have worked hard together to get where we are, and I am so grateful for all of the wonderful things, places, and moments, we have been able to enjoy together on this journey. Sometimes we have not so great days, and that’s okay too. My dog is not a robot, he is a living breathing intelligent being who deserves my understanding and compassion. When things don’t go quite the way I expected them to, instead of getting angry because my dog “should” know how to do this, or know that he “shouldn’t” do that, I ask myself how I can better help him. I am often reminded of the old saying “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”, and Brembo has most certainly taught me so many important lessons about the power of trust, patience, respect, choice, and understanding. Over the past few days we attended TriDex at Purina Farms in Missouri. Each day we entered the crowded facility together and there was music, people, all sorts of equipment and noises, and dogs, lots of them. We walked through hallways past dogs who for the most part kept in their own space, and sometimes, did not. We attended workshops in close quarters with many strange dogs and people who moved around, sometimes quickly, and sometimes quite close by. We worked in tight spaces with dogs on all sides of us, and my little red dog did everything I asked of him without hesitation. Reactive dogs often end up with such a limited world, and I constantly stress the importance of putting in the time and work with our dogs to enable them to be a bigger part of our lives and expand their world. I don’t just preach this to my clients as a trainer, I live it, too. I’ve had those difficult days, the embarrassing moments, and the frustrating ones. When we first entered the building on day one, the moment Brembo saw the first dog he stiffened and started to grumble and charge forward, I quickly redirected him and we successfully moved on. I absolutely had that “Oh no!” moment so many of us are familiar with, but I put it in the back of my mind and we pushed forward. My little red dog not only kept it together over the next three days, he was perfection. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have difficult moments, but we made it work, together. So I’m writing this, for us, to remind us of the “why” on those not so great days, and also for you, the owner of a reactive dog who maybe isn’t quite sure there is such a thing as “good days” yet.
To my little red dog,
Thanks for reminding me that trust is the most powerful bond between two living things, and to always find joy in even the smallest of things and moments.
“Training is everything, and everything is training” – Wonderpup Dog Training