As you probably know, Bloo is a rescue. I rescued him from a kill shelter in South Carolina and he came with a slew of issues as most shelter dogs do. I don’t know what happened before he met me but whatever it is made him a very frightened dog.
Most dogs learn to be fearful and reactive and are not born with it. There are some things we do as their owners that contribute to their reactivity and encourages them to continue their behavior.
For example, dogs bark when there is a change in their surroundings. One change might be the mailman walking onto our porch to deliver the mail. Bloo hears this and starts barking. In his eyes, his barking worked. The mailman came, heard him bark and left. A job well done.
Another example is when we’re walking on a leash and we see another dog. Bloo feels scared or uncomfortable so he starts lunging and barking which makes me uncomfortable forcing me to tighten the leash, yell “no” and so he associates that other dog with something bad because we’re both uncomfortable and freaking out.
So, I not only need to help Bloo change his behavior but I need to change mine too. So Bloo and I signed up for a Reactive Rover Class to do just that. Last night was our first class.
I learned a lot which I will share in some upcoming posts as we track our progress. The one thing that stuck in my head from last night’s class is when the instructor reminded us to look to the future and not the past.
The trainer told us that every time we say “he’s a rescue, he was abused, he was neglected, etc.”, we’re keeping him in the past. We can’t change what happened to him before we met and honestly, we really have no idea what happened. So it’s best to keep the past in the past and focus on what to do for him now so that we both have a good future.
I guess it’s kind of like life. We can’t change the past, we can only make choices now that create our future. So today, we will diligently work on our training exercises so that tomorrow will be a brighter day and we’ll leave the past where it belongs…in the past.