Updated: Apr 27, 2022
We adopted Roxy with no preparation. We were responsible for a tiny puppy who acted like a land shark and could not be left alone for more than a few hours.
The extra demand Roxy placed on both of our days was frustrating. It was important for both of us to reframe our experience. To do that, we adopted these perspectives.
1. Your moods define not only your life but your pet's.
Roxy has no option to leave and join another pack. The time we spent together is the highlight of her day. I could either make the most of it and build that relationship, or we can all be miserable.
Dogs are receptive to our mental state. She reflected our frustration or calm. Once we got ourselves under control it had a domino effect. Roxy started to behave better and we were all happier.
By forcing us to go outside every day and focus on her, we both became better at enjoying the moment. The key is to view time with your dog as a way to unwind and disconnect. It is a way to reset our mental state. It is not something that can be willed into existence.
2. Look at obstacles as a team
We argued over whose turn it was to walk Roxy and wash the dishes, but it didn’t change anything. The time still needed to be spent, we had to cooperate better.
To manage our priorities, we started to plan each week. One person made dinner and cleaned up while the other walked and played with her. This took the pressure off on days with a big work deliverable while giving us alternating breaks to spend with Roxy.
3. Results require discipline and a long-term approach.
Owning a dog is like training your mind or body, it takes repetition and focus which will culminate in a good or bad way.
Dog training requires patience and repetition. It isn't perfect. Inconsistencies and a lack of discipline will show up in the behavior of your dog. When we looked for shortcuts and didn’t provide the right framework Roxy’s behaviors grew worse. We started to incorporate training into our way of life, and the payoff was rewarding.
Now, Roxy sits before we could go outside. We (usually) walk with a loose leash and enjoy our walks together. After several days of training, she understood the command find it and was able to have a blast playing nose work games.
Building a relationship is a learning process and a journey that we will all enjoy.
If you ever feel discouraged, just remember a few quotes by James Clear:
“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it—but all that had gone before.”
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”