Forcing the issue

Funny, I was looking for a photo for today's blog when I came across this on FB this morning.  It couldn't be more perfect.  Taken from The Happy Place on FB.

Leaning over to pet the head of a little white fur ball, I deliver the news.  It's not good news; not what the owner wants to hear.  "She is not going to make a therapy dog," I tell them.  "She doesn't like to be touched," I share with them.  They called me in to help turn their pooch into a therapy dog but this canine had plans of her own.  Being a therapy dog was not one of them, not even close.  I have worked with many dogs over the years who's owners have great expectations and disappointments with regard to their dog.  Many people have a very particular purpose in mind for their dog when they set out to choose.  Perhaps a therapy dog, maybe a flyball champ, Frisbee dog or Search and Rescue.  But it does not always work out.

How many dogs have been re-homed because they simply weren't mean enough?  When people buy a dog hoping for a guard dog and no matter how hard they try they cannot get the dog to think badly of anyone.  They go through all the training but the dog is more like Lassie than a dog from the movie The Doberman Gang.  It just does not work all the time.  I know many people who have performance dogs, they pick specific dogs with high drive and strong work ethic.  For sports where they need to chase like Frisbee or Flyball they need drive and lots of it.  But I have seen dogs with drive who do not want to chase things in a structured setting.  They hate all the other barking dogs and people at the events and do not perform well.  The owner persists and the dog disappoints.  It is sad.

Just like humans, each dog is an individual and just because you get a dog breed or mix that should love to do a particular activity does not mean that they will.  I have seen dogs who are pushed to the edge; some come back but others break.  Dogs who may have been amazing flying disc dogs can come unglued due to stress at an event.  Dogs are simple animals; simple but very complex as well.  If you know dogs and their behavior extensively it is easy; but for many humans, life can be a constant challenge of not understanding their canine's behavior.

Tilley was a great example of a dog who was amazingly talented with a drive that was off the charts.  That said she would have shut down at a Fly Ball event.  So much noise and commotion; an overload of stimulus.  She wouldn't go crazy with a huge display; but quietly balk and become non functional.  This type of surrounding is just fine for many but not for some.  It is important to see this in our dogs.    It can be difficult when you put so much hope and dreams into one dog but if it isn't meant to be then so be it.  Maybe those big rosette ribbons were not meant to sit on your mantle; maybe you were just meant to take long quiet hikes together.

Many dogs who are not enjoying things are not big performance dogs.  They might be family dogs in the wrong household.  Perhaps they were a great dog put into a family with 6 young, active and loud children.  I have seen dogs break in these situations, they just couldn't hack it.  The dog is a wonderful one, just not for this family.  Too much noise, stimulus, ruckus and never ending loudness.  Perhaps a household has a never ending stream of visitors and your particular dog does not do well with visitors.  Stress is a horrible thing to live with; constant never ending stress can be  detrimental.

Dogs with high drive, buckets of energy and desire to work can be just as stressed if put into a sedentary type lifestyle.  These are the dogs who are not being given the outlet for these traits; the ones who eat the living room sofa, take the drywall off of walls and dismantle the backyard sprinklers.

Some owners take their dog to the dog park everyday which lots of dogs love.  But I have also seen many dogs at the park who hate it.  I never understand this; it is clear that their dog is not enjoying the outing.  There have been dogs at the park who sit trembling under their owners legs but the human still keeps going.  Dogs have stress just like we do and the more they have the worse it is.  The dog who hates going to the dog park might love going to the beach and having a quiet walk with his owner.  Maybe they love to go in the car or even have a hidden talent for the chuck it or Frisbee.

Is your dog happy?  This question is on my mind often.  I want my dogs to be happy and I am pretty sure that they are.  They are quite content and deal well with everything that our life entails.  As a youngster Elsa has a huge desire to run and retrieve; I make a point of giving that to her daily.  She is not a big fan of being chased by other dogs while trying to do her retrieving so I fit in one on one retrieving every day for her.  She loves to socialize but the combination doesn't go over well.  She is serious about her retrieving and gets frustrated when others get in the way of that.  She never gets angry but I can see that it stresses her so I watch for it.  If other dogs become an issue at retrieving time we put the ball away for later.  

Dogs do not come out of a cookie cutter; not even the ones that look like they do  Each is an individual and if the one you have is not enjoying what you had planned; perhaps you can tweak those plans to include a happy dog?