If only I'd known...
How many times have we all said that in our lives? The trouble is knowing something doesn't help either, unless we apply it!
When I took guardianship of Luke, my rescue greyhound, I had the perfect opportunity. He'd never been a pet, never been in a home and I had all the knowledge that Pip had shared whilst we were training Brando. We got off to a brilliant start with all his training and things had been going really well.
That's when I started making mistakes. I've always dreamed of having a dog that could curl up on the sofa with me and sleep upstairs. My other dogs were dominant so this was never an option. With Luke however, he was such a super star, I'd been encouraging him to do these things and he'd even been allowed on my bed….
Luke’s appetite was also poor. Initially I put it down to the warmer weather and Pip gave me some advice on how to get him eating more regularly, but all to no avail.
Then the (on reflection) inevitable happened. Luke snapped at my Husband in our bedroom. We took him downstairs for the night and at some point he marked his territory on some offcuts that were sitting on the floor, as we’d been redecorating. He had never done this before.
In the past I would have been utterly horrified, would have wondered what on earth had happened to this dog that I had thought was so wonderful and probably have thought I'd taken on the wrong dog. Thankfully with all the knowledge I've gained since training with Pip I knew the responsibility lay totally with me. I had caused this.
So we went back to basics. Luke is only allowed downstairs. When we’re out he's left in the kitchen and when we’re home he's in the living room on his bed, not the sofa! He's presently snoozing very happily indeed and his appetite has returned with a vengeance! He now clears two bowls of food a day and licks them clean.
I'd made the poor judgement call of trying to have the relationship with my dog that suits me, not what honours him as a dog. Lesson learned! As Pip once taught me, food isn't love and now I understand nor is having your dog on your sofa or in your bed. The truly loving thing to do is respect that he is a dog, he needs to know his place to feel happy and secure and ensuring he has regular, long, interesting walks is what is really important.
What is annoying is that I had already been taught all of this. So often what we know and what we do are not one and the same. The lesson I'm repeatedly learning at Pippsway is that we have to apply what we know consistently if we want to have the outcomes we desire. My ride in the canter field showed me what I am already capable of when I am in a good mindset and am applying all that I have learned. The reward of sharing that experience with Bronson was huge!
On the upside keeping my house clean just got a whole lot easier as all the black dog hairs and a cream carpet upstairs were proving a challenge to keep on top of! I’m relieved to have order restored and I won't make the mistake of thinking that having my dog closer to me, brings him closer to me. Just as with our horses, having boundaries that honour their true nature is essential to the quality of our relationship.