The last few months, many of you have probably seen the posts about Westley and the different things that have been going on with him both physically and emotionally.
Reactivity, anxiety, resource guarding, allergies... You name it, this pup has been going through it. I have decided to start using this blog as an opportunity to share his journey as well as my own as an owner and future dog trainer in hopes that my honest and vulnerable posts will be able to help someone else who may be experiencing something similar!
Even if nobody reads it, I think that it will be helpful for me to share my thoughts along the way about being an owner of an incredible dog who just so happens to also have some behavioral challenges we get to work through together.
Something that I think is super important to talk about which is often overlooked, is the emotional toll that having a pet with behavioral challenges can have on you. The constant thoughts that circle around our head, the endless amounts of opinions that you get from friends and family who are just trying to help (but let's be real... most of the time it leaves us feeling more confused and alone than we were before) and let's not forget the dumpster fire the internet can be when it comes to anything dog related.
For me, some of the thoughts that circle around in my head are...
The constant worrying of "is it going to happen" and "am I doing enough?".
The constant management and thinking about what I could be doing differently.
The constant thought of "I am supposed to be on track to becoming a professional dog trainer, if my dog is having these behavior concerns what are other people thinking about me and my abilities?"
The lingering feeling of "did I do something to cause this?" Even though I know that there is likely nothing I could have done differently and that I can't train away genetics.
The fear that people and clients are going to become afraid of my sweet pup if I talk about his behavioral concerns even though I do everything that I possibly can to keep everyone safe, comfortable and happy in all situations (because that is ALWAYS my main priority).
The worry that I possibly caused some of his insecurity around resources because of the job that I do and having him constantly around other dogs pretty much since he came home at 8 weeks old.
Have you ever had any thoughts like this surrounding your pet's behavioral challenges? If you are comfortable, please share them in the comments or even in a private message to me!
If you have, please know that you are NOT alone and there are so many people out there rooting you on, including your pet.
It is okay to feel however you have been feeling about your dog's behavior, but please know that they are so much more than the behaviors they may be expressing and that there is ALWAYS a reason for what they are doing even if we don't understand it in that moment.
Westley is the most friendly, easy going, kind and sensitive animal I have ever met and the bond that we have is truly incredible. He is definitely a mamas boy and I wouldn't change a single thing about him. He is a great brother to Hárlaigh, a friend that any dog would be lucky to have and is a constant source of entertainment with his little quirks and personality.
I think the thing that I fear the most is that people will start to define Westley by his behaviors.
He is SO MUCH MORE than his reactivity and resource guarding and I want people to see him for exactly who he is.
From one owner of an incredible dog who just so happens to also have behavior challenges to another, you are doing an incredible job and you are not alone in this journey! Your pup is lucky to have you and they love you, never forget that!
I can't wait to keep writing these posts and hope that you may will find them helpful even if it's just to know that you aren't alone.
Keep fighting for your pup, but also be kind to yourself.