For many, when this sort of thing happens, right or wrong, they give up. At the end of the day people want a dog that can walk side-by-side with them in their lives and going through something as embarrassing as a wild, bucking, dangerous looking dog while your neighbors look at you and judge everything you’re doing wrong wasn’t on the menu when you picked up that puppy or that rescue dog at the shelter
You can always work around a problem, but that doesn’t solve it. The only way to solve a problem, though, is straight through the embarrassment and stress. And of course, that holds true with dogs as well as for you owners on the other end of the leash.
I was reminded this, by a dog name Reece recently (and am reminded almost daily by the dogs I work with). Here is a video of me meeting Reece who is hostile to all strangers. I had met him once before many months before this, but he needed a trip to the vet so I was called in to help facilitate him being handled by strangers. He did amazingly (by his standards) throughout the experience, but pay attention to at least the beginning of the video here:
If you are able to watch the rest of the video, you start to see some of that negativity melt away. Not all at once, and not completely, but you can see the change happening. The attacks stop. He allows me to begin to handle him. And what you don’t see is us in the vet office – me doing a mock physical examination on him with a stethoscope and everything.
The beginning of the video is what I like to call riding the wave (I believe I stole this wording from Cesar Millan), but it is a phrase we all understand on some level. To me, it’s about going through the dog’s emotions with him, rather than trying to stamp out the emotions with corrections or with food. The dog goes through the wave of emotion and I am there waiting at the other side to help.
Have your emotions and then move past them – just like we want your dog to do.
Riding the wave is something I do on the micro level all the time. Moments like this one illustrate it clearly. But if you are rehabilitating a dog, you’re riding the wave all the time. Your dog is going through something and you are the calm, steady hand waiting to on the other end of all those negative emotions to start teaching your dog how to be successful in the world so that you guys can walk side-by-side in peace.
Don’t’ let these tantrums and emotional outbursts define your dog. Work through them and find your success. Your dog will thank you for it.