What’s right for you may not be right for your dog and what’s right for your dog may not be right for you! It’s an honest response I give to many clients that I meet when they are literally at ‘Rock bottom’ with their dog. Sometimes they’ve been through so many ‘trainers’, spent a fortune, got bitten and are left so confused with what they should/shouldn’t do that they have literally lost all ability to ‘understand’ what their dog is trying to tell them….’I’m not happy!’ It’s been a tough few weeks of decision making, with new clients having looked to me to give them the answer to the toughest question that only a few dog owners ever have to face…..”Is this the right dog for me?” The only response I can give them is honesty, based on instinct, experience and most importantly from what the dog is showing me. Without sounding ‘cuckoo’ if I could bottle the ability to look into a dogs eyes and understand if they are happy or not I would!
We have to make decisions every day, making what we hope is the right decision is tough, particularly when we have an emotional tie, which most dog owners do. Some clients throw in the towel, even before they’ve come to see me, giving up on their dog based on the behaviour they have had to endure, believing that is ‘how their dog is always going to be.’ Some I’ve had to ‘talk around’ on the phone, convincing them to give their dog one more chance and let me take a look. Some I’ve won over, some not and the result has been them putting their dog to sleep. In some cases it’s been a case of the wrong dog for the owner and I’ve had to be honest and explain that in a different environment their dog would be happier, more balanced.
One of the hardest things is conveying to the owner the potential I see in a dog to become balanced. Explaining that the behaviour their dog is exhibiting is just an outcome of how their dog is feeling at that time. And that if we address how their dog is feeling generally and in the situations that are an issue, then their dog’s behaviour will change. But it is a process, there are no quick fixes and it takes commitment from the owner. In some cases the ‘personality’ of the dog just does not suit the owners personality, or the environment the dog is in can not be changed due to a variety of reasons. It is then that I ask owners to put their feelings aside and to ask themselves ‘What would make my dog happy?’ Some can do the right thing, others not….