Growing up my family had a dog named Teddy Bear and he was a purebred Field Spaniel. Teddy was mellow, sweet, and well behaved. He didn’t have a lot of training and didn’t having any glaring issues. Overall, he was an easy dog.
My theory is that Teddy’s behavior was due to excellent genetics, a knowledgeable breeder, and a loving home. There are a lot of dogs that don’t get a fraction of that during their developing years and then we often find ourselves with dogs that have some baggage.
I soon found that not all dogs are easy. My own dogs are prime examples of tough dogs. One is reactive and sensitive to touch and the other has dog-dog resource guarding. It hasn’t been an easy road with them and I hate to think about doing it alone.
Forget Island Living
If you have found yourself in a situation where you are living with a difficult dog, you absolutely need support. Maybe you are opening your home to foster dogs, or have an aging dog that’s in pain. You could have an adult dog you just adopted with separation anxiety, or maybe your solid dog experienced an unexpected traumatizing event. It’s rough, time to find your people!
You could be an introvert or a tough guy and you might think you can handle all that life throws at you by yourself. Like me, you could be a pet professional and feel like you should be able to handle all the dog problems that come your way (guilty here). STOP IT!
There is no reason to do it all alone and there are so many amazing connections to be made out. Don’t be an island. Create a tribe because:
You Need a Shoulder to Cry On
You pick up your dog from day care and he’s been snapping at people. Your dog attacks your other dog. Your dog is surprised by a child and he nips them. They are doing construction next door and you can’t get your dog to stop barking. Your dog has chewed up a beautiful shoe
All true stories that resulted in crying. Find a friend, partner, mom and use their shoulder as a tissue.
You Need to Vent
I once had someone tell me to shut up my barking dog. I’m guessing the feeling is similar to when you get looks and comments you get when your child is having a tantrum in public. Embarrassed and angry!
We find ourselves in all sorts of situations with our dogs that can get us angry or upset. Having a willing ear to listen to us while we vent about the stranger who said their off leash dog was friendly, can help process things and blow off some steam. These people deserve a medal for being patient and understanding when we vent!
You Need Advice
This is where I like to have some pet professionals in my back pocket. I have vets, trainer friends, and professional Facebook communities that I can call upon if I just don’t know what to do anymore.
I recently was at my wits end with dog on dog resource guarding and was on the phone with trainer friends and vets. They helped me piece together a plan and provide a different perspective to the problem.
You Need a Time Out
I know we love our dogs, but they can still be frustrating! Especially those with behavioral problems. This is where having a friend to go meet for dinner or a partner to allow you to leave the situation for a bit, is key. Maintaining your sanity is really important and having a person to help you get out of your head will save you!
You Need Help
Sometimes we put a lot of stuff on our plates: jobs, kids, hobbies, dogs, partners, vacation, volunteer work, and more. Some of those things are obligations and are there to stay, while other things we love to do and want to keep. It’s hard to say “No!”
This is where it helps to have a little village that you can call upon when you need it. Do you have someone at work that would be understanding if your dog needed emergency surgery? Or a friend that could stop in and check on your dogs if you had to go to the hospital? Those people are lifesavers!
I am an introvert and I find it a little difficult to make new friends, but with two challenging dogs, having a village makes life manageable. I encourage you to go find your tribe of people. I’m sure it’ll be a mix of dog lovers, cat lovers, pet professionals, and family like mine.
If you’re new to town or entering a different stage of life, finding new friends that support your crazy dog parent tendencies can be tough. Here are some places and people you can strike up a conversation:
- Local pet stores
- Vets (Vets, techs, receptionists)
- Trainers (we love interested and enthusiastic clients!)
- Dog events
- Boarding facilities, day cares, or dog walkers (one of my good friends managed a dog walking company!)
- Shelters or rescue groups
- At work (The co-worker with a picture of their dog on their desk)
- Our Facebook Group
Trust me, your people are out there! And you already have something in common, you love your pets!