When I am working with other dogs, I am calm, clear about my expectations, relaxed, and I don’t put up with any nonsense. With my own dog, though, not so much. This is not unique to me – every trainer has bias with their own dogs. But it can create issues, or exacerbate previous issues that should have been momentary, not long-standing. Case in point: Glimmer’s ongoing anxiety with the car.
Three years ago, we had to say goodbye to our beloved cat, Charlie. Glimmer was deeply bonded to him, and when we took him to the vet and didn’t bring him home, she went into a depression… and developed anxiety about the car. For three years, I have tried to help her overcome that anxiety. What I didn’t realize was that while my intentions were good, I was unconsciously anticipating anxious behavior. Dogs don’t hold onto the past or worry about the future; they live only in the now. But, I was forgetting that by unconsciously expecting Glimmer to become anxious about the car because she associates it with losing her companion. You see the start of the cycle there?
One of the many wonderful things about dogs is that they are very forgiving. When we make mistakes either because we’re unaware of what we’re doing, or because we don’t know better, our dogs will forgive us and love us anyway. Glimmer is no different. When I am balanced and in the right state of mind, so is she. And that is exactly what we’re going to be working towards, effective immediately. Because, I do love her.
Stay tuned. This is going to be an interesting journey…