Looking after a dogs mental well being is just as important as looking after a dogs physical well being,
That looks slightly different from dog to dog home to home, but the core values remain the same to ensure that well being is running at it’s optimum.
Healthy consistent boundaries, that ensures every household member is comfortable with day to day living habits and routines.
feedback and guidance that builds and strengthens skills and understanding of the world around them especially their people and how best to connect and “plug in” to them.
Healthy outlets of fulfilment PLAY structure is one of the most over looked elements in a dogs daily life but is a huge game changer when done right.
Solid easy to read and communicate with fellow family members for connection to help satisfy natural social instincts.
And if you don’t put mental well being high on the care checklist of your dog, stress and disconnection can impact on your dogs long term health, stress and anxiety can alter gut health, immunity, and impact on/burn out the nervous system.
Mental well being = physical well being.
It goes hand in hand.
Find your vet important in ensuring physical well being when you need the guidance?
What about a trainer when it comes to your dogs mental well being?
I recently found out that not too long ago 80’s to 90’s it was common practice to believe dogs didn’t feel pain or feel intense amounts of pain, including after surgery, broken bones etc
It actually blew my mind to learn that.
Fast forward to now, it’s standard procedure to administer pain relief before the animal has woken and to send the animal home with roughly three days worth of pain relief just for desexing.
How crazy is that??
And it got me thinking, if we were once in a place where our experts of a dogs body had no real understanding of how much pain they were in,
Can’t our experts in mental wellbeing and behavioural training miss the mark a little as well?
My clients get to get to know their dog on a whole new level, understanding their emotional cues better, to better recognise when their dog is genuinely having a hard time, when they are frustrated, throwing in the towel or simply trying to “win” in the game of who can be more stubborn/patient than the other.
And how that plays a huge part in how the dog interacts and reacts to the world around him.
“traditional” dog training disregards a dogs emotions quite a lot “dogs a dog don’t humanize them”
And yeah I agree don’t make them something that they aren’t but that’s not what the people I work with are aiming for, they are aiming for their dog to have the opportunity to be themselves whilst understanding the boundaries to keep them safe and happy.
And hell even newer aged veterinarian behaviourist work is missing the mark too by heavily working on shifting the brain chemically, by relying quite heavily on meds to “fix” issues, almost completely ignoring the fact that the brain is an ever evolving organ, neurons change, strengthen and weaken all the time, medication can have it’s place but it’s not THE answer.
Nothing is THE answer, like the body the brain is a complex thing, if you want to teach your dog obedience or tricks hell go for gold doing that work on your own,
But behaviour, emotions, reworking the brain,
communication, developing and strengthening bonds?
How good are you at solving rubix cubes?
The more you have going on the more behaviourally with your dog the more different pieces are at play
and this is why after all most 6 months my advanced clients are still seeing shifts and changes in their dog realising that whilst things are getting waaaay easier, and they are doing the things they have always wanted with their dog, the process of having a good relationship with your dog is an ever evolving thing, just like our relationships with people you get back what you put in.
and sometimes we don’t know all the right things to put in to get that return, and that’s ok, it’s more than ok to need help with this stuff, it’s hard and it’s complicated and our professionals in the field of working with animals, medically, behaviourally etc are STILL learning themselves, it’s still progressing and evolving.
When you hire help in that way you’re hiring a head start to get up to scratch with what we understand right now about dogs, but I can bet you in another 10-20 years time it will be different AGAIN.
So do you feel confident that what you know about training, working with and moving through the issues you face with your dog is up to date?
It’s hard to believe I picked this big girl up just a week ago and two days prior she had to be sedated the night before AND the morning of to be able to go to the vets without her losing her cool,
At people and dogs.
Callie is our latest Board and Train and a really special one at that,
she currently doesn’t have a home (HINT HINT 😉) and without our help she wouldn’t have had a chance in gaining one given her very serious reactivity issues.
This is her yesterday, in the middle of petstock loving life as she gets thoroughly blow dried.
Hannah and I were almost gagging at the smell of her, I can’t imagine just how uncomfortable she was feeling before the soak and treatment she got for the yeast that been hanging out in those rolls of her.
I was fully prepared not to be able to do this with her and have to walk out before being able to get her into the hydro bath.
I’ve picked my groomer for this very reason, she gets it that some dogs can only handle so much and pushing based that point can have the complete opposite effect.
Even if it just means showing up and standing around for 5 minutes then leaving, that’s better than not going at all, that’s better than causing a bad experience and escalating behaviours.
And it’s exactly why it went so well.
There wasn’t any pressure, any expectation of what Callie HAD to do, it was all based on what she would allow us to do.
On her being willing to follow my lead and trust that I had her back that she didn’t need to hate on everyone and everything around her to protect herself.
Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t sail through the process like this the entire time, she is food mad and she wouldn’t take treats so her stress levels were super clear, she growled and barked at one man but followed me and calmed down super quick, while we were walking her around letting her treatment soak, and a pile of cans in the aisle that she found to be a little scary. She allowed staff to come up and pat her.
Despite how she was feeling she was willing and able to trust Hannah and I, allow us to wash her, soak her, blow dry her AND clip her nails. Really Hannah did all the work, I just made it look like I was working just as hard haha
I’ll remind you again this same dog had to be sedated a week ago for everyone’s safety
and I am all for safety as I said if needed I would have bailed on the grooming session if she couldn’t handle it but she so needed it, and I knew she would feel sooo much better afterwards.
I was so happy with this outcome.
It was made possible with the right structure, the right communication, I was able to check in with Callie when she needed it, help her move through things that were hard, and we were able to take pressure off of her by taking our time and doing things she was able to show us she was fairly comfortable with.
Hannah and I are a great team with these types of dogs it’s only because we get that when we put pressure on a dog when they are already feeling pressure from outside sourcing that we can’t control –
Strangers, other dogs and animals, the wind blowing etc
It makes it even harder for the dog to cope with the situation.
Time, structure, guidance and trust building all made this possible and I can’t wait to see where this dogs at in a couple more weeks time.
The best part to all of this?
None of the work is complicated, it’s not something only a dog trainer can do and it’s going to take hours out of your day to train.
I get my clients working no more than 5 minutes per day and I remind them to have a “couple of days off” to step back and refresh themselves from the work.
Board and Trains make the process go just a little faster but
it’s something any owner can do for and with their dog, you just need to know how.