Hey friend, we have to talk about why you should keep your dog.
(And for those of you who never considered an alternative, perhaps this message runs deeper yet… hang with me.)
I know we always try to say things in a way that will be more comfortable or “supportive,” but screw that. You should keep your dog, because of what you can learn in the process.
Before there is any confusion – this is not a blame or shame game, it’s a consciousness game.
There are definitely dogs who aren’t right. The ones who just don’t learn “normally,” the ones who are too dangerous regardless of training or management, and some who involve too much risk… they absolutely do exist.
But if your dog is truly a 1% dog, these animals aren’t fair to pass on to someone else, as they continue to present tremendous liability for the next owner. And adopters without connection to the dog’s past behavior, so often lack connection to the severity of their new dog’s current/future behavior risks. This scenario actually increases risk and liability in many cases.
I believe there are situations where a dog and human pair are not in the right dynamic to thrive together; factors of environment, skill, emotional stability, and so on, can all play a part in creating insurmountable struggle.
I believe there are times when re-homing, or even humanely euthanizing a dog, is the better choice. Never popular or desirable, it can be the more fair and responsible thing to do.
But this is really about the fact that there are so many times when dogs are given up, surrendered to shelters and rescues, or put to sleep in situations where that outcome wasn’t necessary or ideal at all.
Because responsibility educates, and taking 100% responsibility for yourself, your life, your choices, the consequences of your actions/priorities, and the fallout of your lack of awareness at one time, empowers you to grow beyond the person you were then. It actually gives you more power.
When we “act as if” we are responsible, seeking to understand how we may have caused a circumstance or situation in our lives, we have the best chance of gathering clues and solutions there. Digging in to figure out how you could be causing your dog’s menacing behavior, how you may have failed to fulfill him/her, or the dynamic YOU brought them into that was less than ideal, allows you to recognize where else you may be repeating the same mistakes.
Imagine what the world would be like if everyone took 100% responsibility for themselves… what might we have then?
If every human was committed to kicking blame, judgement, anger, resentment and passivity to the curb, I think we can be confident we’d have less pain and suffering, less loss, abandonment, fear, instability and so much less of everything that contaminates the experience of life for so many.
- Taking responsibility if we sought out the emotional crutch when life was heaping pressure on us and we didn’t know how to deal in a healthier way.
- Taking responsibility for how we choose our down time, socializing with friends or relaxing in front of the TV – or walking and training our dogs?
- Taking responsibility for a lack of boundaries and perhaps the failure to say “NO” when we didn’t have time and resources to properly care for another dog.
- Taking responsibility for when the stewardship duties were no longer as “fun,” convenient or popular.
- Taking responsibility for discovering your dog is not who you wanted/expected them to be, that they need different things from you in order to become their best.
- Taking responsibility for expectations that are unreasonable or unfair.
- Taking responsibility for our mess, not blaming our dog for causing our emotional imbalance or lack of leadership skills.
- Taking 100% responsibility for our fear, our helplessness, and our need to step the heck up and do hard things.
(Want more on this topic? I invite you to jump to this Fix It Friday Episode – particularly, the second half – where I further discussed this live.)
To your training success,