Get insight into what it’s like for people to live with a difficult dog, and how you can help.
A couple of months ago, I did a pair of articles about shy and fearful dogs. A reader wrote me to say that she wished I’d said something about the human experience of living with a dog who has behavior problems. This week, life with a difficult dog, and how you can help..
A Difficult Dog May Not Be the Owner’s Fault
In Dog Land, there are still plenty of people who claim that if a dog has behavior problems, it’s all the guardian’s fault. If only they would do … something, or had done another thing, or would try that thing, their dog would be perfect. It’s hard enough living with a behaviorally troubled dog, even minus the piled-on shame and guilt. So let’s knock that one out right away.
I admit I wince inwardly when a client has ignored or minimized what could have been a relatively small problem until it got much, much worse. But almost all the people I work with have done the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time. They looked for a reputable breeder online and believed the smooth talk that went with the website photos of puppies playing in the grass. A rescue group representative assured them that the timid, lip-curling adolescent they felt sorry for would turn right around if she got plenty of love. A book that trumpeted its author’s expertise prescribed repeated alpha rolls; now their dog has learned that human handling is a cue for self-defense. Each of these things has happened to clients of mine. They all felt guilty, even though they were the ones who’d been taken for a ride.