Our dog messed up because we messed up. It was no one else's fault but ours -We stopped blaming others, worked on bettering ourselves, wrote down our goals, took accountability of why our dog was the way she was, we changed our lifestyle habits, we stopped being selfish of our needs, started 'listening' to our dog, did our hard work and then everything changed & paid off.
Before we learned anything about dog training- (besides watching Cesar Millan's tv show)
We were one of those owners who would blame our dog's bad behaviors because of her past.. Long story short, Indie lived with a man who (supposedly)physically abused her (also why we thought she hated people -men specifically-). We used to use that excuse every time someone asked us what her backstory was because we were in denial that she had developed shitty behaviors because of us. It was never our fault, we were blaming each other and others. We were making excuses when she acted crappy. Just the whole denial/blaming shebang.
The reality of her issues arising was that we gave her comfort before respect. We never tried to stop her crappy behavior on leash but instead we avoided conflicts. We walked Indie out at odd hours so that we wouldn't run into people & dogs and boy if we did walk during the day and passed other dogs, Indie would go feral. She'd leave leash burns on our hands and she'd go bonkers until the other dogs were out of sight. She was in total control of our walks, it was so embarrassing.
That's when we finally realized we needed help, we needed to get trained & learn how to make our lives livable with a predator.
We always heard the phrase "you get what you pet" and never really understood that meaning until we started applying it. This was the very first thing Mailee and I worked on to better ourselves. We stopped petting Indie and Cubbie, stopped petting strange dogs, just admired them from afar and then it just became a habit to not pet them, it is called RESPECT. Was it hard? Of course it was but we stopped being selfish on wanting what made us feel good and instead we focused on what would better dogs. Trust us, overcoming the want to physically touching and petting cute fluffy dogs was the hardest thing to do as human beings. So, if you want to start seeing small changes and don't know where to start with your dog, start by not petting him/her and see if it's something that you can do and let us know how it goes.
Not petting our dogs (freely) helped tremendously in their behaviors. It especially helped Cubbie overcome his fear..We kept nurturing his fearful state (without knowing)by petting him and we didn't even know it- we were hurting instead of helping. And same with Indie, we nurtured Indie's nervousness around strangers instead of addressing it or advocating for her.
After creating new habits of no petting, we also removed free roaming entirely and the only way for our dogs to gain that privilege again was for them to show us that they could make better choices. (FYI-This is the 2nd exercise of lifestyle habit you can change with your dog TODAY). This is not forever you guys, but before the dog can roam freely, we want to make sure the dog respects you, your home, knows your rules of what allowed and what's not allowed. Plus, home isn't a zoo, it's a place you come back to for relaxation. Am I right or am I right? 😉
As we mastered the no petting, "everything must be earned" and no free roaming rules (YES those are rules!) - we saw some amazing changes. With Indie, she needed to be worked mentally (meaning - we needed to teach her how to gain impulse control and mastering staying still) but what truly flipped Indie's state of mind and bettered our relationship with her was that we finally took control of the walk, taught her a solid, very specific 'heel' command, we stopped being soft, we owned our mistakes and we shared valuable consequences when needed. With Cubbie, not petting him for 2 years actually helped him come out of his shell then we implemented confidence building and now he's 100% balanced and isn't afraid of anything anymore.
When we stop nurturing an unstable mind, we eventually see a different dog. TRUST US, it really makes a difference.
Of course along with all of that, we teach obedience (with strong impulse) to make sure we have voice control over our dogs, as well as teaching them not to rush out of doors, waiting for food etc. Something we do every single day, it just becomes part of our lifestyle. If you can apply these basic life rules with your dog, TRUST ME, you will get a better dog (not perfect there's no such thing, but better). When we start working on the HARD stuff to do that's when we see the real results.
It's never too late to turn things around.
In order to get a better dog, start building a better you.