Embracing the Journey With an Imperfect Dog
Sometimes when you have a dog with behavioral issues, such as reactivity, you can’t always do what you want to do…sometimes you have a picture in your mind about how you think things will go with your dog and what your life together will look like. And then your dog develops behavioral issues and that changes things.
When I adopted Marvel at 5 months, I had this vision in mind that he would be a rock star agility competitor and that all I had to focus on were skills supportive to agility, other than general manners to be part of a family. He also was friendly and social with people and other dogs–really lovely. As he matured, all this began to change–especially so in the last 4-6 months. Marvel started to charge at dogs, barking and nipping to get them to go away. He also barked at people close to him when indoors. He no longer wanted people that he didn’t know extremely well petting or handling him.
I finally embraced who Marvel had become this past March. As a result of embracing the journey and not focusing on the end goal, Marvel is teaching me so much about living with and training a dog like him for agility. I learned a LOT about Marvel at an agility seminar in April in regards to his reactivity, and continue to do so every time we attend a seminar. He improved in his impulse control and demonstrated better understanding with the training. Most of the time, our focus was working on Marvel staying with me in that environment rather than working the agility sequences. We had to skip a few exercises because it would have been too much for him to handle at that time. The result of managing his threshold throughout the workshop: a couple of smokin’ fast runs, staying with the momma, at the end of the day!
This victory has grown into so many more positive experiences. Today, Marvel can successfully work an entire day in an seminar with people and dogs all around us. These victories spilled over into everyday life with Marvel as well. He started to become more relaxed around dogs and his reactivity significantly decreased.
The universe works in interesting ways–made me chuckle today. I received a call for a new client who has a dog with the same exact issues as Marvel. I’m clearly the right dog trainer for her.
Clarity & harmony…a better way of living with your dog.
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Articles from Victoria Stilwell
- Why I’m Not a Purely Positive Dog Trainer
- Becoming a Dog Trainer
- Social Bullying
- Does Your Dog Respect You?
- Differences Between Male and Female Dogs