Now that we’ve talked about goals, let’s talk about expectations.
We have to be realistic. Not all dogs are social, just like not all people are social. We all have our preferences, so let’s take a moment to let go of the general expectation that we have of our dogs. You know the one. The one where we walk down the street with a relaxed Golden Retriever who isn’t pulling, who ignores other dogs, who laps up attention from all adults and children, or maybe even greets dogs in a lovely way and then moves on.
You know that’s what we all picture when we adopt a dog.
It rarely turns out this way, doesn’t it?
Don’t be disappointed. You got a real dog, not a stuffed animal. Your dog is awesome and an individual, so let’s work with that.
By the end of this course, you will be able to read and understand your dog’s body language and communication well enough to communicate back to them and help them out of a rough zone. You’ll have the tools, knowledge, and skills to change their behaviour in a way that also enhances your relationship. You will feel more confident handling that leash and taking a walk outside.
You may not end up with that idealistic Golden Retriever we talked about, you may not end up in the dog park, and you may not end up with a dog who happily greets their triggers and invites attention, but you will have a greater understanding and the tools you need to feel good about walks again.
Maybe you’ll be able to pass a trigger at 20 feet whereas you currently have an explosive canine at 60 feet. Perhaps you will be able to better advocate for your dog and have the script and the confidence to say “no thanks, please do not pet my dog” and avoid the bark and lunge as you turn away or pass that person. Maybe you’ll feel like you’ve got the skills to use defensive handling techniques when faced with an off-leash dog charging at you.
Everyone will have a different goal and a different expectation and there’s no prediction or guarantee because you can’t guarantee anything when it comes to the behaviour of any organism.
We do the best we can with what we have and what we know.