The subject of dogs and their people conjures up stories that warm the heart and delight the mind. Katie’s relationship with her 3 year old Golden Retriever, Daisy Mae, started off to be “just such a story” or so Katie thought.
But her love affair with Daisy Mae, the perfect dog was about to go south when Katie met Brent, her soon-to-be fiancé.
Read on and see if this story strikes a familiar chord in your life.
Katie loved Golden Retrievers and her past dog had been the perfect dog. Like most dog owners, Katie set her expectations high for Daisy Mae based on the great dog she had before. Pretty natural; don’t you think?
Daisy had some fear issues
What Katie liked about Daisy was her sweet nature, even though she was a bit skittish around people, especially men. Katie didn’t let that bother her though, thinking Daisy would eventually grow out of it. With Daisy Mae it was “love at first lick!”
What’s next? Maybe some obedience training
Daisy seemed like the perfect dog. At six months of age Katie took Daisy to obedience training and noticed that Daisy was very frightened of people and in fact, snapped at approaching people before slinking away behind Katie. This alarmed Katie so she decided to quit her dog obedience class.
Daisy’s lack of socialization around dogs and people worried Katie but the most troubling concern was Daisy’s fear of people.
A life with no structure
It started because of Katie’s busy schedule and Daisy’s picky eating habits. Katie began to leave Daisy’s food bowl down all day while she was at work thinking she would eat when she got hungry.
Katie walked Daisy twice daily and both usually relaxed on the couch watching television until bedtime. Like clockwork after the news it was a quick potty walk and return to the house for lights out and bedtime. Daisy slept with Katie and was usually the first in bed. Why else do you get a dog, if not to love on her and have the dog sleep with you?
Daisy turned three, and Katie and Daisy were pretty well bonded with lots of love and affection although very lite in the “structure and rules department.” Life was good or so it seemed.
Then came Brent: For better or worse
Katie fell for Brent like she fell for Daisy. How’s that for a comparison? Brent was a sweet and loving guy. He was even-keeled, sensible and never raised his voice.
Daisy on the other hand didn’t fall for Brent.
In fact she was afraid of Brent and would snap when he came close to her. Date night at Katie’s was miserable. Daisy had to be crated or shut in the bedroom when Brent came over. Since Katie didn’t like doing that she would meet Brent out at his car to avoid any confrontation between the two.
Happiness to Heartache
Katie and Brent were in love and got engaged but avoided the Daisy problem. The unspoken choice was: would Katie have to give up Daisy for a happy life with Brent?
Their lifestyle was stressed and inconvenient. They couldn’t function like a normal couple with a dog. What to do?
Katie and Brent were on an emotional Roller Coaster ride putting Katie on the hot seat of getting closer to having to make a “Brent-or-Daisy Mae” decision until they decided to give me a call.
Then came Jim: Here’s hoping!
Now let’s get one thing clear. I’m not a dog whisperer that comes into your home and fixes your dog problem.
I’m a dog trainer that will come into your home and work with you to resolve your dog behavior problem. It’s unfortunate but very common many dog problems simply don’t get fixed because the dog owner will not make the necessary changes to effect a positive change in their dog.
Some however do. Katie and Brent did.
In fact, they did every single thing I recommended and it worked. They knew it would take time but the wedding was one year away so they set that as their goal. It did take time. It took 6-7 months.
What did they do?
By this time Brent, Katie and Daisy had moved in together so it provided the perfect set up for them to get Daisy used to Brent. Two things happened:
- Basically I had Katie ignore Daisy – just played like Daisy was not there. Very hard for Katie to do but she did it because she wanted what was best for Daisy!
- I had Brent partner up with Daisy which included walking and feeding at first with Katie not present during feeding time. I also had Brent start clicking/treating Daisy off and on throughout the evenings and weekend. He soon became Daisy’s only source of love and affection, food and interaction.
- Brent eventually put her on an earn-to-learn program (sit for everything) and began teaching her more dog obedience commands. Rules and structure was exactly what she needed.
Sometimes, depending on the dog and circumstances, you can go from heartache back to happiness with willing participants and a serious commitment to change. Role reversals like this (complete social distance from the original owner) where we depleted the value of Katie while building high value in Brent, works with many dogs.
I also find that some dog owners are not up to the task and find ways to compromise the program. They can’t stand not to interact with their loving pet. It is a personal decision – live with the behavior or fix the behavior– so I’m not judging.
With Katie and Daisy I knew it was definitely not a dog problem. It was a people problem. The proof was in the pudding so to speak because it did fix the relationship with Brent and Daisy.
Katie couldn’t be happier. With the proper skills to desensitize Daisy to people, Katie and Brent set that as a long range goal working with core family and friends first and then gradually increasing Daisy’s circle of people she eventually liked.
Daisy is a lot less stressed now having rules and expectations in her life where all love and affection is earned and balanced. Katie and Brent plan on raising their kids this way to which I replied, “It’s a good thing because I don’t do kids!”
Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
If your dog’s behavior has got you to the ‘boiling point” Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping you get your well behaved dog back!