A rescue dog will often be labeled with some kind of dog problem. Many times I will hear statements like, “He’s a rescue; he’s fearful.”
Another familiar comment is, “He’s a rescue, he was abused.”
Even if the symptom (fear or whatever presents itself) does exist, labeling dogs, and constantly channeling energy into the past, cannot be a good thing for dogs if they are to eventually overcome their fears or problems.
Dogs do not live in the past, they live in the moment and most of you know that.
Every time you bring up your dog’s past experience, he is reading and interpreting your energy. I believe it can be counterproductive to a dog or owner’s forward progress. I think it is far better to treat your dog as you want him to be – not as he is. That’s channeling good positive energy to your dog.
A cattle dog named Sadie
A great case in point is a female cattle dog named Sadie who was afraid of every noise outside, all cars and anyone who came over to visit. Getting Sadie to go potty outside in the back yard was difficult at best. If a neighbor cranked up the lawn mower she would be at the back door trembling.
Walks for Sadie were nearly impossible, as she would put on the brakes about one or two houses down causing the owner to cut the walk short. On some days they couldn’t even get her out of the house.
Remedy to the Rescue
One of my recommendations for Sadie was to begin using a Bach Remedy called Rescue Remedy (a holistic flower essence) to help with Sadie’s anxiety. I suggested that Sadie have two water bowls – one with Rescue Remedy in it and one with just fresh water.
If Sadie felt anxious, she would drink from the appropriate bowl. Later that evening I received an email update. Sadie was only drinking from the bowl with Rescue Remedy She also did that when she heard thunder.
Once we began to make progress on Sadie’s anxiety, we took a look at walking. Her owners took the time to desensitize her to the head halite before walking her.
This, along with some walking instructions and proper use of the head halite had her walking in no time at all.
The amazing transformation
During our conversation, it was really interesting that with the recommendations, which really began to help them work through the trouble spots with Sadie, – not once did they mention Sadie’s past issues.
Labels were dropped and the focus was on how they wanted Sadie to be. They looked at each new day with renewed hope and never looked back.
We also worked on ground rules in the home and made a diet adjustment that complemented Sadie’s energy. Obedience training gave Sadie a new purpose of working for her strong role models (mom and dad) rather than Sadie feeling a need to lead the pack – greatly diminishing their dog behavior problems.
Acquiring any dog, even under ideal conditions, does not guarantee a well-adjusted animal. Adopting a dog is a true commitment that one should enter with both eyes wide open. There will be problems and inconveniences (much like raising children) you must deal with but you can help your dog overcome these challenges. They will respect you and trust you in the long run.
Stop repeating the stories and the problems of the past. Leave the labels behind. Help your dog recover and move forward to a confident life with you. He will be eternally grateful.
I told them that, “Whether you realize it or not, Sadie is with you for a reason. She is your teacher. Figure out what it is Sadie needs you to learn. She will tell you if you listen.”
What is the lesson your dog needs you to learn?
P.S. In addition to Bach Remedies, there are a number of products on the market (without using drugs) designed to help dogs with feelings of anxiety, stress and other emotional discomforts. Anxiety Wraps and Thunder Shirts can provide comfort to your dog through the use of body pressure – much like swaddling does for babies.
DAP (doggie appeasing pheromones) is a synthetic reproduction of a mother dogs actual pheromone released to calm her anxious pups. It’s available over the counter as a plug in like an air freshener. And there is training equipment out there as well to assist in easier handling of your dog on walks – like Gentle Leaders, head halti’s, easy walk harnesses and In-Sync Harnesses for walking.
I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.
We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.
I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. So tell me have you put a label on your dog? – I’m here to help you remove that .
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.