Saturday, November 16, 2013

Do Your Best To Prepare Your Dog For the Worst

When people bring a new puppy or dog  home so much attention is focused on housebreaking and obedience training.  Don't get me wrong, these are important things, but I'm always preaching to my clients the importance of raising calm confident dogs.  A dog who is comfortable being away from you whether you're in another room or you've left the house.  We want dogs who LOVE their crates and can be calm and relaxed when confined.  These are things we tend to take for granted as we focus on teaching Fido to Sit and to stop peeing in the house. 

This past week has given me the opportunity to see first hand the benefits of practicing what I preach. 

My 7 month old Labrador, Hubble, received a devastating diagnosis and had to undergo surgery.  This was unexpected and very traumatic for Hubble and his humans.   We arrived for an appointment at Michigan State University and were told he needed surgery and would be staying, not returning home with us.  This would be the first time he's stayed away from home as well as undergoing a surgical procedure.   The weeks and months of helping him learn to love his crate,  the process of helping him realize that he can relax when left alone because his humans always return have made a horrible situation more bearable .   I had the comfort of knowing even in this difficult situation he would be alright. 

The reports I've received from the staff at MSU have been those of shock and surprise as to how calm and relaxed he has been during this ordeal.   He rests comfortably in his kennel run while the dogs around him are distressed and fearful.  He greets every person he meets as if they have always been his friend because humans are wonderful and he's never met one he didn't have a great experience with.  He didn't panic when I left him because I always return.   Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he was afraid, in pain and missing his family, but he had the coping skills to get through it.

If someone had told me last week that my sweet puppy would be going through this I would have never believed it.  We don't expect things like this to happen to an apparently healthy puppy, but they do, that's just the way life goes.  While we can't prevent bad things from happening we can invest the time and energy into preparing our dog to cope with a difficult situation. 

I preach prevention all the time, prevent separation anxiety, prevent confinement anxiety, because you never know when it will be the most important thing you ever do for your dog!