A picture can tell a thousand words.
Why does this picture mean the world to me?
It’s just a dog lying down in a field, watching the world go by. However this little dog sometimes has the weight of the world on her shoulders and to be fairly relaxed in this environment is the result of a lot of hard teamwork. Weeks, months and years of helping her understand the world is not against her. The strange man approaching won’t hurt her, the dog nearby isn’t a threat and she can trust me to have her back.
She still needs some convincing that this is the case. Given that the first year of her life is an unknown, she’ll always have her ‘quirks’, but for me and her this moment was a triumph, one that I for sure will celebrate.
All too often we expect too much of our dogs and one thing training has taught me is to work on the small successes. If my goal was to have her play happily in a field of dogs then we’d both be set up for disappointment. My goals instead involve her having a nice greeting with a dog, choosing to have a stroke from someone I trust, being relaxed as I chat to a stranger. Things that mean nothing to another owner but which I know are challenges for Dita.
If we’d adopted a confident happy go lucky dog all those years ago I expect we’d not be in the jobs we are now. How powerful an impact our dogs can have!
Celebrate your dog’s achievements, no matter how small and set them up to succeed!