It takes only one thing to rehabilitate a dog (or dogs) with “issues”: PATIENCE.
If you have true patience, every needed training skill can be taught to you. Lacking patience, you haven’t a foundation upon which to even build a skill-set. Patience is the key to both learning, & to a dog’s psyche & heart.
When patience is non-existent, blame inevitably is put onto the dog (by poor or ignorant trainers) for his “bad behavior.” An insightful trainer recognizes that the majority of canine “bad behaviors” are actually reflections/amplifications of the energies, attitudes, & behaviors/fears which dog owners themselves unwittingly project via body language & facial expression; even scent. This is precisely why patience is so critical in rehabilitating problem dogs.
Dogs (psychologically) sense & reflect our energies; even more so when they are tightly bonded with us. We notice that our dogs become more protective & clingy when we feel sick or have been injured, we see our dog leap to our defense when he hears us cry out in fear, & we feel our hearts swell when we whisper softly into his ear & he sighs & gazes at us adoringly. None of this is imagined or anthropomorphism on our parts.
Our dogs have & experience true emotions, with depth & breadth. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (f-MRI) studies demonstrate that dogs experience emotions much as we do. When shown photos of their owner’s faces, study dogs’ brain “pleasure centers” lit up, just as human brains do when shown images of loved ones. Other ongoing studies continue to support & clarify earlier results: Dogs feel.
Perhaps the greatest & the worst of the canine’s attributes is his ability to sense–& reflect–his human’s emotional state. If that human is patient, calm, assertive, & capable of leading his/her Pack, then all will be well, even if the dog has “issues” & needs retraining. However, if the owner is impatient, is anxious, &/or fails to provide leadership to his/her Pack, then chaos will reign. If the dog has “issues,” those will be compounded & typically doubled or tripled by the time the situation culminates–usually with the dog being relinquished or euthanized. And far, far too often the dog is blamed for acting out “bad behaviors” actually brought on or supported by the owner himself. Heartbreaking.
Consider the hundreds of thousands of dogs in shelters & rescues *right now.* Think of just the ones you’ve seen with “special needs” come across your FB feed over the past month; perhaps they must be “only dogs,” or they “guard resources,” or they “suffer separation anxiety.” Most people scroll right past them; they’re just too much work. The general consensus is that they are damaged goods, & they will never be “normal” dogs.
I’m here to tell you that is WRONG. With just one thing, virtually ANY “problem dog” can be a “normal dog.” It simply takes PATIENCE. If you do not believe me, I invite you to come meet our two Younglings, Belle & Zeus. These two remarkable dogs are living proof that patience wins–not pinch collars, shock collars (in fact, I do most of my work off-lead), or harsh training methods, etc.–PATIENCE WINS.