In this blog, I will be sharing with you how I learned to love my Shih Tzu dog called Bruno who has had behaviour problems. It’s been a very difficult journey, but the transformation has been amazing; and what a journey we both still have ahead of us.
When you have a dog with behaviour problems playing games or going on walks with them feels like torture. The games we played were entirely out of the necessity to keep him fit and release some energy out of him. Our walks consisted of him pulling on his lead, barking excessively and being aggressive to other dogs and people. If you have a dog like mine used to be, I would advise this: choose a simple game that you think you will most enjoy and repeat this sentence to yourself until it sticks in your mind and heart ‘I enjoy playing with my dog,’ ‘I enjoy playing with my dog,’ The objective of the exercise is to transmit positive emotions to your dog.
When I first got my Bruno, playing was joylessly and routinely done. We played at the same time every day, but personally I didn’t enjoy it (even though we both had a good workout); he would jump, and I would sweat like a monkey, but something was missing; unlike with my late dog Molly when playing was always exciting for the two of us. I thought the reason we both enjoyed playing together was because I didn’t have kids, so I had invested all my energy to make my late dog happy, but than I realised that I was wrong because even when my kids were born when I played with my Molly there was always something magical. I would forget my worries. I would only see my dog, my Molly. Even in a field full of passers-by and other dogs and distractions I only saw my dog having fun, and she would sense my happiness and joy.
Training her was fast and easy for both of us. We both loved our time together. With my new dog Bruno, who came into to my life with so many behaviour problems, enjoying any play with him was hard to come by and training him was very long and painful for both of us.
Fortunately, we had a breakthrough. I realised that something was wrong, and I wanted to understand what that was.
My conclusion was that I was angry that Bruno’s previous owner had sold me a troubled dog who caused me to briefly close my business. He bit two of my children: my eleven-year-old son and my now twenty-months- old son. He also bit my friends and was aggressive with other dogs and people.
I was waking up every day dreading facing another bad behaviour day. I got even more angry when I contacted Bruno’s previous owner who said the dog was a perfect dog, but he had never trained him. All he did was take the dog out to pee or poo, and that was the only interaction he had with him.
He said that he had purchased the dog at the age of two to three weeks (but he was not registered until he was about seven- months old)
My advice is: Be wary of cheap dogs online.
It was only when I went back to doing meditation and affirmation to help me let go of Bruno past and enjoy time with him that our relationships started to blossom.
If you want to read more about Bruno’s bad behaviour and his transformation, then leave comments below and I will post something.
And I placed a selection of toys on floor for Bruno to pick. Bruno picked yellow squeaky ball, although Bruno will play with other balls, fetching and find ball was my job; he would quickly lose interest, but the yellow squeaky ball is a ball the Bruno would search high and low for it. Playing fetch after I tell myself ‘I enjoy playing with my dog’ has helped us enjoy time together.
Now, Bruno and I play in park and we both block everyone else and focus on our game. For dog who was aggressive to people and dogs inches from us he would chase and take them. Now he is so focus on playing that he is learning to accept other dogs and people being in the park. He is has learned let strangers stroke him and he has learned to ask to play with other dogs, he has learned to read other dogs body signals, he isn’t perfectly reading them yet but the progress, instead of feeling angry, frustrated, anxious and even hating myself for bring him into my home. The progress he has made is now, slowly healing my heart.
I wish only the best for my little Bruno. With any dogs with behaviour problems, consistency, being firm amongst others attribute is key to their ability to make changes in their behaviour. I have still a long way to go.
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