'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Sunday, 5 June 2011

What If?

My mum said something a few weeks ago that I've been thinking about a lot - what if I'd never gotten Lola, and the woman who had originally paid for her (and ended up with her brother) had gotten her instead?

I often feel guilty that I'm letting her down, that I didn't socialise her enough. She was shy with people to begin with, so I tried not to push her too hard... and I think I didn't push her enough. She used to be great with kids, so I let them pet her when we were out, and then one day she decided she didn't like them. She used to be great with other dogs, too, and now she will at best ignore strange dogs and at worst be aggressive with them.

Would a hypothetical other owner have done better by her? Maybe she would have better suited a busy household - we don't get many visitors, so it upsets Lola when we do.

Or maybe the other owner would use punishment with her to suppress her more obnoxious behaviours. I'm coming to the conclusion that she isn't a medium energy JRT, but high energy. Would the 'average' owner be able to keep up with that, or would the other woman have forcibly stopped it with leash pops, physical corrections, etc, that would quickly shut down my sensitive girl?

I go between being glad that Lola is mine (using positive methods, exercising her a lot - and trying to understand and get to grips with who she is) and wondering if she wouldn't have been better off being raised by someone else. I would obviously never get rid of her--even if I somehow could, I know she wouldn't pass the shelter temperament tests--but I do wonder if I do right by her, or if I've just made a poor situation worse.

4 comments:

Sara said...

Oh Sophie, don't feel like it is your fault.

I've had Oreo since he was a puppy, and I believe I did an adequate job socializing him as a pup. I think, with dogs, a lot of it is nature versus nuture. Our behaviorist told me that Oreo most likely would have developed his fears no matter what.

I often question myself as well, but her telling me that made me feel so much better.

I've seen dogs from the same litter even turn out as complete opposites, despite similar socialization and up bringing. Kind of like how human siblings can be complete opposites.

Lola will be fine. You are doing all the right things. Reactive dogs can learn, improve, and lead good lives. It may always be extra work for you, but with Lola, I know it will be worth it.

Hang in there.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

I agree totally with Sara! You are giving Lola a wonderful home and teaching her amazing things all with positive reinforcement. She is in the best possible place she could be!

Bailey said...

Don't doubt yourself. Katy is our latest rescue and it would be easy to walk down the path you are on. There were others who might have taken her home and what if? It does not matter, there was a reason we brought her home and why she is here with us. I believe you will find Lola has a purpose for being with you as well.

Don't be hard on yourself and keep working on it. The what if questions are not helpful. The what next ones are the ones to focus on.

Debbie McCune *Notebook to Novel* said...

Sophie you care about Lola and Jess so much - they are both lucky to have an owner who loves them so much :-) x