Why can’t my dog just be normal?

Why can't my dog just be normal

Sometimes this can become a real problem when you live with a reactive dog or a dog who has some other problem. They may pull a leash like a freight train, bark at crows, and chase cats, or they may have more serious problems such as reactivity/fear of people or other dogs, or they guard objects or growl at you when you walk past their bed.

We love our dogs; there is no doubt about that. Regardless of their imperfections, we do wish the best for them. When we are faced with social pressure and judgment from others, it only makes things more difficult. Sometimes it can seem like everyone else has “normal” dogs, while you’re trying your best to make at least small steps toward a change for the better.

How do you deal with this?

Realize there are no “normal” dogs

What does “normal” mean? “Meets the standard, normal, typical, or expected,” the dictionary says.

When it comes to animals and their behavior, there really is no such thing as “normal.” You may think your neighbor has a perfectly normal and perfect dog. It doesn’t bounce, it doesn’t bark, it doesn’t pull. However, what you may not know is that when he lets her off leash – she eats feces and practically kicks in the door before her walk, risking being hit by a car. Is this “normal” behavior? Absolutely, this behavior is normal for an animal! The dog is not perfect, and the neighbor may have made some effort to make him behave as “normal.” Thus, there are several things to keep in mind when you feel you are “fighting a losing battle.”

Acknowledge small successes

It is human nature to focus on shortcomings and reject the progress we make in life. Allow yourself and your dog to feel the progress you make together. If you haven’t made progress yet, contact a qualified trainer. Keep a journal of your dog’s progress, even the smallest ones. Give your dog feedback (a treat or a game) when he does something right, even if it’s a minor success. Don’t look for perfection, you want to progress!

Ignore the haters

You will be judged by your dog’s behavior and you need to get over it. You can’t change other people’s reactions to you, but you can develop a hard-headedness (or a healthy pouty attitude) and remember that you and your dog are a team. Keep your eye on the ball, focus on your dog, the training and what you are doing. If a slip happens, it’s just a failed attempt and part of the training process. If someone in your life is constantly criticizing you or your dog, have a phrase ready to respond, “We’re working on it, no dog is perfect, but we’re making progress in our training.” Don’t let the negativity ruin your mood and look for as many situations as you can in which you have been successful and that you can use as a guide.

Everything is in your hands

Remember that you need to provide education and training for your dog if you want change. The process of training animals is not always easy; we humans tend to be inconsistent, confuse them and often change the rules for our dogs… giving them the opportunity to guess what the hell we want them to do! Slowly, gradually, consistently and clearly. If the training isn’t “working,” you either need a new trainer, you need to rethink what you are doing, or you are not giving your dog enough time to reinforce the skill.

Approval and Support

Understand that you are not in the minority when it comes to dogs and that your dog is not “abnormal” and there are many dogs with similar problems. If you have family members or friends who support you, discuss it with them. Ask for help if you need it to find a trainer who works well with reactive dogs, discuss your problem in a topic group or chat room, and seek out as much information as you can on your problem, dogs, and their behavior yourself.

The more we learn about animal behavior and the learning process, the better we can understand why our dogs do what they do. Appreciate your dog for who he is with all his quirks and flaws.

Autumn Jolley
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