Often we would like to change something about or dog (pet). Maybe we want them to be less active, more social, cuddlier etc. But imagine if you lived with a dog that is so shut down from fear that he does not want to do almost anything.
There are many people who live with such dogs (pets) and some of them in my country are my clients. So we go together on this journey of „opening“ their dog more to the world and when we succeed some other “issues” can come out.
Their dog starts acting more like a “Dog” and not as “Shut down creature” who is almost invisible.
For example dog never barked, never wanted to leave our sight or never had interest to chew anything in the house.
But suddenly that dog barks, or wants to explore world or is interested in chewing.
Sometimes people start to complain in sense yes he is less fearful but now he does this and that.
And I am thinking WUHUU yes!! Your Dog is becoming a Visible dog and is coming out of his shell. So we should “celebrate the Crazy”!! (by that I mean celebrate the difference that might make us crazy 🙂 )
Example would be someone who used to walk their dog without leash because their dog was so scared that he/she would always be nearby (THIS IS NEVER WISE JUST TO PUT A NOTE HERE). So as we start the work I tell them that they MUST put a dog on a leash first of all for safety reasons but also I know that as we progress dogs confidence should go up and there is a big chance he will become more open to the world. Often people are reluctant because they say that their dog will not go anywhere. So as we progress with work, dog does become more interested in the world.
And what happens, some people become disappointed because now their dog wants to go away or is reluctant to come back when called since he discovered something interesting – and it was easier for them to walk without leash (yes, they did not see how unsafe that was). So in their eyes I created MORE work for them. Because now they need to teach dog solid recall and MUST have him on long lead for sure.
But what they do not see is how exciting and precious it is to see the dog who was so scared that did not want to sniff or explore anything starts doing so. Again something to celebrate!!
People can become dissatisfied when something like this happens, but it is important for them to look at the big picture.
Guardians with fearful pets can become accustomed to living with creature that does not have many needs and desires. So when such pet becomes more alive some people get bit disturbed with that. So I tell them: “if we exclude fearfulness your dog would normally behave like that on everyday basis so he is just being a dog and you are just not being used to that.
Of course those behaviors that are not welcome should be put under control, but it is something to be happy about because it means that your dog is finally starting to live, to be alive.”
Such situations mostly happen when fearful dog is in puberty and through work he becomes more confident. So dog might not listen to cues as he did before, can now have desire to play with other dogs, or can start sniffing excessively in walks etc. Those are all normal behaviors for that age especially and should be cherished and celebrated. That means that dogs true personality is finally coming out, however guardians might become confused since they do not know their pet in that light.
So my job is to lift their spirits and tell them how great that is!
And for those people who do not have fearful pets – „celebrate the crazy“all the time since living with fearful pet is not easy and imagine how that pet must feel. Look at your pet with happy eyes even when he/she is doing something that you do not approve, because that means that he/she lives life fully – with normal desires to explore and have fun. Lets help them along the way to make proper choices, but we should also enjoy their quirkiness. 🙂
Jelena Kallay – Vagabond Positive Animal Communication
Dip. Animal Behavior Technology, Dip. ABT – CASI
Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional Program, KPA – CTP