Last week while we were in Chicago, we were walking to a coffee shop when I couldn’t help but chuckle at a conversation I overheard. A couple we were passing seemed a bit stressed about where they were going to eat/grab coffee because they had their English bulldog with them. The conversation went something like this…
Woman: “I don’t know…”
Man: “Why don’t we just eat here?”
Woman: “No, its just too much because…”
Man: “It’s fine, we can eat on the patio…I’ll watch him.”
Woman: “No, let’s just go.”
…now I don’t know everything that was going on with them or the full context of the conversation, but I definitely let out a little chuckle to myself, because we have totally been there with Henry…stressed about where we could bring him, would he behave, how would others act around him…would he be ok? Would the owners of the restaurant/coffee shop be ok with it? So on and so forth. It may sound silly, but the stress was (and sometimes still is) reallll, but clearly we aren’t alone. That couple was feeling the same things we have felt bringing Henry out in public. Since we started Henry’s training, we have received so many messages from followers and even friends who we’ve known for quite some time, about how they go through the same anxiety with their dogs. Since then he has made leaps and bounds…we bring him to coffee shops with us to work (where people have mentioned they deal with the same social struggles) and even a few patio dinners at our favorite restaurants, but he still has the occasional outburst.
If you’re not a pet owner, maybe this post is pointless or even silly, but I recently had a similar conversation with a friend yesterday about marriage. That can be a whole other post on it’s own, but the point is, there is SO much we don’t talk about and share in our culture…the frustrating parts of life, the stressors, the difficult family dynamics, etc. and when we don’t talk about them, we isolate ourselves and others to the point where we’re all silently fighting our own battles internally and it doesn’t need to be like that. It has made me feel so much better over the last several months to share stories about Henry and the ups and downs of his training, because it has directly affected our everyday. I wish we could all be a bit more open about things and it’s definitely been a goal of mine to let my guard down a bit more these days.
Anyway, to the dog moms and dads who are silently dealing with their dog’s anxiety and the stress it can cause on your household, it can get it easier. Henry had such an extreme case of anxiety and leash aggression, but after several months of training and reinforcing a positive routine and strict schedule at home, he seems to be able to relax more which takes the pressure off him to protect us and run the show. We’ve given him “jobs”, through the place game and “go say hi”. He loves these daily activities and it gives him a source to work out his energy. He seems so happy to complete each task and get a treat in return. Sometimes we try to let him go free in the yard, but he just wants to do these drills and sits on his “place” (we bought this little trampoline/bed for outdoors) looking at us for the next command. It’s been a game changer.
Have you guys struggled with getting a solid routine down for your fur babies? What’s the dynamic like with your pet? We’d love to hear more!
PS: We received a few inquiries about the dog trainers we used with Henry. After a lot of research we went with Zenergy Dog Training, and couldn’t be happier. Check them out if you’re local to Phoenix.