Love the one you're with - Tricia Breen

We have to find balance in our relationships. We need to work to help our dogs live comfortably with us and our chaotic human world. This takes time, practice, patience, observational skill, a willingness to work at it. If they are uncomfortable with other dogs, get worked up when on leash, are fearful of new people, new environments, we work on helping them to work through these things. We want them to be comfortable, reduce the stress and anxiety that they might feel. We want them to be comfortable so that we can take them more places with us, enjoy their company in more venues.

We also need to know when to accept who they are, to be willing to change our expectations of them. If they don't want to meet lots of other dogs, we need to accept that. If they don't want to hang out at the coffee shop while we sit at the table visiting and drinking our caffeine, we need to accept that. If we have a dog that really gets no enjoyment out of agility, we need to question why we might be insisting.

As with people, there are introverts and extroverts in dogs. There are shy dogs, there are driven dogs, there are dogs that love to meet everyone and anyone, there are dogs that prefer a small circle of friends only. So we work on making things better as much as possible for them, minimize the stress, maximize the comfort, then we adjust the environment to fit with who they are.

When someone calls me to say that they don't want to have to make any changes in their own lives to meet their dogs needs, one of my tasks might be to reset their expectations. If one's daughter decides that med school or law school is not for them, a good parent supports that decision and understands that the love of another avenue is a perfectly fine thing for their child.

I have one such dog that has limitations. He likely had distemper as a pup and he has some issues that make him a bit limited in his ability to do things that the other dogs can do. He can't go to as many places as the other dogs, but we have made concessions, made his life work for him and for us. We have learned to appreciate who he is, have not pushed him beyond his ability.

We have to compromise in our human relationships. If one is not fond of endless holiday cocktail parties with people they don't really know, their partner, who might love such gatherings, understands that it might be pushing to expect that one after another might be too much to ask. They come up with a plan where the more introverted attends a few of them, the extrovert attends a greater number independently, or skips some of them. This is how relationships work and thrive.

Wouldn't it be great if we made our relationships with our dogs work that way too? Wouldn't it be to great to help them to be comfortable in our world while not pushing them beyond their innate abilities, understand that they might have preferences, might have limitations. Just imagine if your parents insisted that you go to medical school even though your dream was to become an artist. Our dogs are just as individual as we are.

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Comments: 12
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