Why has it all gone wrong? A clients dilema!
I did a home visit tonight to a client I haven't seen for three months. They called me to arrange a visit following a couple of incidents involving their dog. No one and no other animal has been hurt but nevertheless the incidents were sufficiently concerning for them to ask for a visit.
We had a detailed discussion about the incidents and their possible reasons and we also discussed what had been going on in their lives since I last saw them.
Work has been busy, daughters having GCSE exams trying to do their best for the dog, on other words a great deal has been going on.
This has lead my clients to feeling like they are failing their dog because they are not able to give him what they think he needs. He is their first dog, he is a character and he is still under 12 months old so they are all learning together.
My clients want to do the best for their dog and put themselves under considerable pressure to do the best for their dog and when things don't go the way they want them to, they blame themselves. Because they have had several visits and been on the group dog behaviour walks, they feel they should know what to do so they haven't been in touch to ask the questions that would have helped them work through a very busy period in their lives.
Instead they have tried to struggle through and have ended up very stressed, very emotional and feeling bad about themselves because things haven't worked they way they have been and they didn't want to bother me because they thought they should know what to do.
I don't have the time to keep in contact with everyone I have worked with, I wish I did but unfortunately the onus does fall on you to keep in touch and ask your questions.
With my client tonight, I recovered a lot of the basics, we went over the things that they do know, but have forgotten to do. Human nature is what it is, without practice, nothing becomes permanent and this applies particularly to our behaviour.
My clients said to me they had started taking their dogs good behaviour for granted because he had been very well behaved.
In reality, this means the dog was getting an ever decreasing amount of attention for being well behaved and relaxed and was slowly getting more attention for being active and interrupting, because he had to, just to get the attention he needs.
My clients had also resorted to playing with the dog because they thought he needed to play because he must be bored, unfortunately with this dog, that just reinforced the expectation that he could have all of the owners attention for being excited. This can have adverse affects on a dogs behaviour and this was the case here.
It was very pleasing towards the end of the visit to see my clients looking much less stressed, much less guilty and much more back on track in terms of praising good behaviour.
I am now much more confident they will contact me with any questions they may have as they know it is never an inconvenience, it is never a chore nor a problem to maintain a dialogue with you so you keep doing what your dog needs you to do.
I have a client in Great Bowden who emails me every day with questions, sometimes the same question because they have forgotten what I said in the last visit and they need to have the repetition so they can remember.
Change is not easy not is it quick but it can be a lot easier if you ask the questions you need answers to otherwise it can feel very difficult.
We all have other stuff going on to deal with, I know that. Life can be just as demanding, if not more demanding than your dog so you are allowed to ask for help. It does not mean you have failed, it does not mean you should think you are a super hero and know everything. Allow yourself, give yourself permission to admit you made a mistake, I know I do and I have made plenty!
Our mistakes are learning opportunities, I learn as much from mistakes as I do from getting it right, and that applies to all aspects of my life and I love to learn.
Patience is a difficult skill to master, especially when we are under pressure, give your self permission to blow off steam, vent your frustrations because that will help you think clearly when you have.
I don't profess to have all the answers to your dogs issues, but I have a lot of them and I am always happy and willing to share what I know with you as that will help you achieve what you want, a happy and contented dog.