Living wholeheartedly with your dog – part 1


I’m currently reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. In the book, the author talks about wholehearted living, which is embracing vulnerability, being courageous and being resilient to shame.

Dr Brown states that there are ten guideposts to living wholeheartedly, which is the antidote to shame. These apply to our dogs as well.

Cultivating authenticity – letting go what other people think. Your life and journey with your dog are yours and your dogs. She is a member of your family and deserves to be treated as such. Many people who have had dogs before will have opinions on how you should live with your dog, how your dog should behave, how you should behave and treat your dog, where your dog should be allowed to go etc. Decide what you want for your dog and then train it.

Some people are crushed, truly crushed, when someone says or infers that they are not a good dog owner. Ask yourself – why do you value that person’s opinion? Why do you let what that person, who may or may not live with you tell you how you should interact with your dog if you are taking care of all your dogs needs?

Want to let your dog up on the bed? In the bedroom? On your lap? On your couch? Go for it. The only caveat I would suggest is that you and your dog are both getting your needs met. If you allow your dog up on the couch any time they want, it’s not fair to be angry with your dog when they have dirty paws and jump on your couch. A better way might be to let them up with permission and ensure that their feet are clean when they come in. If your dog is growling at you when they are on the couch and won’t let you on the couch, then that is certainly an issue; your dog is having a nice time but you are not getting to sit on your couch, which clearly isn’t right. Teach them the rules, it’s only fair.

When I first adopted Logan, I had everyone and their granny who had access to Facebook chiming with their opinion on what I should or should do with him, what he should or should be able to do with him. My response now is “and you are…?”

Who is that person who is a witness/voyeur to the snippets of our life I choose to share publicly, to tell me or anyone else what I should or shouldn’t do with him? How much do they really know about our life based on a few minutes of video I choose to share? My answer – no one who I’m interested in listening to. So try to apply the same to you and your dog. Someone tells you your dog needs to sit at the door before they are allowed out, ask why. Sit before they get their food? Why? Sit before crossing the road? Why?

The other side of this is taking advice of people you truly align with and trust. Taking counsel from a trusted advisor, whether paid or not, is very wise. We don’t know everything and must seek help when we need to. I did this with Logan and was fortunate to be able to call on many trainer and behaviour friends and colleagues who could give me help and advice.

The wisdom is knowing the difference.

Part 2 to come.

One thought on “Living wholeheartedly with your dog – part 1

  1. This is so true. If we could survive on a diet of unsolicited advice and judgment, no one in the world would starve!
    As a dog trainer, I like to preface my advice with such phrases as, “If you would like your dog to…”, or “You’ve told me it’s a problem when your dog…”. If they haven’t told me a particular behaviour is a problem, or if the behaviour doesn’t impact on or exacerbate some other problem, I leave it alone.

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