Have you ever been in a situation where someone wanted you to do something that you just could not do? Or have you been in a situation where someone wanted you to do something that you hated doing?
As humans, we understand that we all have strengths and weaknesses. A person who is 5 feet tall is not likely going to be a professional basketball player. Just as a person who faints at the sight of blood will probably not be a surgeon. We are all different and that is ok.
When we get a puppy or adopt a new dog, we often have some expectation or plans for the dog before we even meet them. We may want an agility dog, a family dog, a therapy dog or just a walking/ hiking partner. There are so many things we can do with our dogs that our “goals” may be extensive. These goals and plans can be good, they give you something to work towards with your dog.
However, sometimes our best-laid plans, do not sync with our dog’s personality or skill set. This can be disappointing but if you are open it can lead to different opportunities.
I have experienced this myself with a few of my dogs. When I adopted my first Jack Russell Terrier I had hoped he would be a therapy dog. As he grew up, it was clear he was only interested in my affection. He would allow people to pet him, but he did not find joy in meeting new people. Because I was able to see that being a therapy dog was not for him, I got involved in agility. In the end, it was a sport we loved doing together. Even though my plans were diverted, Buster and I found something we both loved.
When I inherited Eric, a black Labrador, I had hoped he would join Buster and I in agility. When I took Eric to agility class, he had a good time, but he knocked over every jump. Because he was having fun, I kept Eric in agility classes for a little while but we eventually stopped. However, Eric enjoyed meeting new people, so he was able to do some therapy dog work.
Just like humans, dogs are not robots, they have individual personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Instead of getting frustrated with your dog who will not meet your expectations, get creative and try something new. By trying new things with your dog, you may find a new goal or experience that you both enjoy.
Shannon has been a pet lover all her life and a dog trainer for over 20 years. She has spent her life observing, caring for and training animals of all kinds. She has worked in the Bird Department at Marine World Africa USA, and worked as a handler and trainer for an African Serval Cat at Safari West, a private zoo in Santa Rosa, California. She has participated in behavior studies including observations of bald eagles and addax antelope through the San Francisco Zoo and Safari West. Her education includes a Biology Degree, specializing in Zoology from Sonoma State.
She is a "Registered Veterinary Technician," a "Certified Professional Dog Trainer" (Knowledge Assessed), a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, a member of the "Association of Pet Dog Trainers" and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Shannon is currently serving as President for the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. Shannon's dog training philosophy revolves around force-free, positive reinforcement, however, her ultimate goal is for healthy happy relationship between pets and their people. Diet, exercise, environment and training all play a significant role in achieving this goal. Shannon is currently the owner of Ventura Pet Wellness and Dog Training Center in Ventura, CA where she works with anxious and fearful dogs privately as well as teaching agility classes (Venturapetwellness.com). Shannon has also started a training website called Truly Force Free Animal Training.