Part of keeping hope alive and well in your heart when you have a high needs dog, is being sure to keep the positive things in front of your nose. Make a list of things that your dog can do well, and post it on the fridge or bathroom mirror, so that you’ll have a physical reminder of good things staring you in the face every day.
When I first started Rugby’s Facebook page, for a long, long time, every Saturday, I posted Rugby’s successes for the week. It was all of the things that Rugby did well for the week. I had a weekly reminder that he did do things well every week, which meant that I was forced to think of things that were victories…no matter how small they were!
I think it’s human nature to want to gravitate or think about bad things. It’s just really easy to get focused on the problems our dogs present, often because they are constant reminders day after day. But making a list of what your dog does well, will help you celebrate the little victories that are often so quiet and whisper hope to us. I think we really have to train our minds to see the good things from day to day and week to week, because that will help us stay focused and going in the right direction.
In Rugby’s case, this is part of his list of great things about my little guy:
- He never gives up! When I’m ready to train, he’s all in…and typically with a great attitude!
- He is flawless in his housebreaking! Never an accident in my house!
- He really does a great job re-directing his overstimulation to his piggies…a much more positive response.
- He is wonderful about remembering day to day manners at home. He rarely ever jumps on me, and almost always says please (by sitting on his own) when he wants to be petted.
- I can’t remember the last time he was growly around his food bowl, and that’s HUGE! He did do a little resource guarding with his piggies when I got back from a recent trip, but it was fairly minor, and not likely to escalate into anything really problematic.
- He’s generally very tolerant of baths, nail trims and brushing. He hates all of that, but he’s typically really sweet about putting up with it.
- He is very cooperative about getting in his crate when I’m leaving for the day, and very sweet about getting off my bed and getting into his own bed at nighttime. He would dearly love to sleep with me, but because of his aggression, I won’t allow him to do that, so he does a wonderful job of hopping off the bed and getting in his own for the night. He respects my space.
So my challenge to you today, is to start your own list of great things that your dog does well, and it will definitely make a positive difference in your world! Belly rubs to your pooches!!