Whoever said that dog training is never over was a very bright individual indeed. After all the time I have spent studying my dog’s behaviour, enough to fill several years of blog posts, one might expect me to be an expert on Shiva-isms. This is why expectations are premeditated resentments. If Labour Day Weekend 2014 is a forecast for my future, I am a novice in the way of the Sheevs.
Once I climb out of myself and look at it from an aerial view, I can see how this is a positive. Learning more pushes our relationship forward. Time had taught me how to give us both a break.
We spent the last weekend camping with family. We’ve never done this before as we always lived several prairies and a Canadian shield away. I was nervous. Obviously. Shiva has met these family members before and it sometimes went well, sometimes… Less well. To be kind about it. Camping brought fresh hope, however, in a clean environment. There would be no territory for her to defend.
This was the thought. Shiva had other ideas. Doesn’t she always?
Alas, there were plenty of dicey moments, more than made me happy. But there were also more moments of clarity than I could have predicted. It turns out, gaining a little outside perspective on my dog’s actions can spin even my cynical brain.
- Shiva is a dog. Yep. Stunning, right?
- Shiva is a dog who does dog-like things. You are blown away, I know it.
- Dog-like things include barking and sometimes jumping. Can you believe it?
- Shiva’s bark is loud and frightening BUT she is easily called off after one or two woofs. This is not the end of the world. Some people startle, some people swear, some people laugh, and some people don’t do anything at all. None of these reactions say anything about my dog.
- Shiva is a very well-trained dog, in comparison to the majority of other dogs. Comparison games are dangerous and I don’t want to play them, but it feels awesome when Shiva sits after one cue and other dogs the same age look like they have never heard the word before in their lives. I shouldn’t gloat over this. I don’t care. Shiva and I worked hard!
- Shiva likes her sleep. She turns into Grumpy Dog when she doesn’t get it.
- Shiva can sleep alone in a tent when she is motivated to do so. She cannot sleep alone at home.
- Shiva has a lot of trust in me. When walking on narrow board walks and passing unpredictable toddlers and flailing cyclists, she didn’t have one reaction. Not because these things didn’t bother her, but because we worked together to give her the space she needs. This is why I can stop her from losing it at the end of her rope when people and other dogs wander by our campsite, sometimes staring as we eat our dinner. She knows I will take care of it.
- Shiva makes mistakes. And so do I. Thus far, no one has died.
- Shiva is not a dog everyone likes. She isn’t cuddly with strangers and she struggles with impulse control in new environments. She is anxious when forced to stay still. These are not endearing qualities. It doesn’t matter if anyone else loves her. It has nothing to do with my training.
- Shiva is not an easy dog and is not a dog for a beginner. I was a beginner. I am not any more.
- Shiva is great with smaller dogs and puppies. I love this about her.
- Shiva is not going to change. She might mellow, she might learn more fun tricks to show off, but she isn’t going to turn into the relaxed, submissive dog other people think she should be. Good on her.
Do you still learn new things about your pets after years of living together?