‘My dog’s too old to change his ways.’ I can’t tell you how many times we hear that from despondent owners struggling to cope with a nervous, obsessive or aggressive dog. It’s a popular belief but it isn’t true.
Let me give you an example:
Zak, an Arctic Malmut, broke his front leg in a car accident at six months old. Awash with guilt his owners gave up all their time to nurse him. Zak’s leg eventually recovered but his owners did not constantly fussing and fretting over their ‘poor’ dog. Zak grew fearful of traffic, people and other dogs. Any time Zak became nervous his owners showered him with love and affection.
Years later they were still ‘nursing’ him but on top of his previous fears Zak now suffered separation anxiety howling continuously any time he was left alone. By the time I met him Zak was a sad case. His owners were at their wits end, they’d done everything they could to help him and he’d only grown worse.
“He had such a terrible start to life,” they told me. “Breaking his leg traumatised him.”
“When was that?” I asked.
“Six years ago.”
“Zak doesn’t care about that,” I explained. “All Zak cares about is the here and now.” His owners were confused. They’d showered him with love and affection to help him forget and here I was telling them Zak didn’t really care about what happened to him.
I explained that all their ‘love and affection’ was hindering his rehabilitation by reaffirming his fearful attitude. I encouraged Zak’s owners to move on and show some practical leadership.
While we were walking Zak around the block I encouraged his owner to jog. Zak immediately broke into a canter. We stepped up the pace and Zak lengthened his stride. Suddenly people, dogs and traffic had no meaning Zak was ‘in the zone.’
I literally watched his anxiety subside. At seven years of age Zak had found his calling. I knew he was ready to shed his fears.
You may have see his owners cycling down the Middlewood Way with Zak galloping alongside totally focused on his ‘job.’
They are now a fully integrated ‘pack’ and only show affection when Zak is in a calm, balanced frame of mind.
Zak no longer sleeps in the bedroom. He has his own quarters and lives like a REAL dog.
Like all dogs, Zak didn’t fret over the past or worry about the future Zak lived in the moment. Once his owners learned to do the same Zak’s rehabilitation was complete.
Dogs are always ready to change whenever YOU are.