Monday, 23 March 2015

What's the solution?

Dear the me of 2012,

Please stop tearing your hair out for a second and take the time to read this letter.  It might just help you out.  

I can't imagine how you must be feeling right now.  Frustration and worry, like pain, is a shadowy memory.  And, I can look back in humour at some of the things you are suffering now.  I can laugh when I think about the time Caesar destroyed the kitchen and ate a whole pack of Nutrigrain bars.  What I do remember is desperation and this is what has prompted me to write to you.

Time and time again I read on forums and groups about anxious dogs.  You may not realise it just yet, but this is what you have.  I know you don't want to sit back and let time pass by where you're not trying to 'cure' this but there is something you need to know; you can't.

Let me tell you that in three years time, you will come home from work one night to find a Tupperware container exploded into sharp shards of plastic all over your bed.  You will spend a week of your life picking these shards from your feet and body and searching for them on the bedroom floor.  These are symptoms of anxiety, prompted by a change in environment or routine.

You musn't blame yourself.  You have not made the dog any worse.  Nor have you caused him to relive any kind of mental trauma.  What you need is time.  Time is the most important thing.

Therefore, when you see quick fixes, try to turn a blind eye.  Try to remember how you feel when you are afraid and remember that one tablet, or coat or spray is not going to miraculously cure him of his fears.  The same with you; anxiety plays a big part in your own life so you should know that nothing will instantly take that away.  

More importantly still, is that you don't get angry with him for his fear.  If someone shouted at you every time you were irrationally afraid of something you'd be stuck in your house shaking!  Try to remember his behaviour is not against you or even a reflection on you; it is he who has come to you with these troubles.  

My advice is not to ignore your issues; persist in positive training, reward the good and ignore the bad as much as possible.  Keep things as consistent as possible; he will always know when tea time will be, when bed time will be and what time you will leave and arrive home.  He will always be in the same room/s.  If someone comes, they will always come at the same time.  Attend training sessions regularly and allow him to get used to his setting and the other animals and people there and don't expect miracles straight away.

Most of all; love and enjoy him as much as he does you because you're going to have to get through this together.  And that will be as hard as you make it...