Can a dogs spirit be broken?
Will Dog Training Break Your Dog’s Spirit?
I was speaking with a woman the other day who was concerned that training her dog might «break her spirit». Her dog is loving and funny, and she didn’t want to do anything that would change that. I don’t t blame her. I wouldn’t want to break my dog’s spirit, or change the quirks and idiosy.
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February 27 2018
I was speaking with a woman the other day who was concerned that training her dog might «break her spirit». Her dog is loving and funny, and she didn’t want to do anything that would change that. I don’t t blame her. I wouldn’t want to break my dog’s spirit, or change the quirks and idiosyncrasies which give my dog his personality.
This is a common concern among dog owners. To put it another way, she was concerned that training, and behavioral modification in particular, would change her dog’s personality. She had, in her mind, a picture of her dog completely subjugated with her head lowered to the ground, following like a robot without any will or joie de vivre.
If you’ve ever met our client’s dogs, you would know in an instant how completely opposite the reality is. Take Harley who has a sparkling gleam in his mischievous eye, a happy wiggle when he sees ANYONE he knows and a never ending joy for living. He is not in the least broken, and we have worked with Harley pretty hard at times.
Some people do call us to help perfect their techniques with commands or walking. They aren’t really dealing with problems per se. But the majority of our clients, like the woman I spoke with, want our help to solve problems. When things aren’t going well in the relationship there is often frustration and stress. Usually both people and dogs feel the effects. So what does happen when we work with people and their dogs? That’s a great and interesting question.
The first thing we do is establish mutual respect and trust. The dogs need to learn to respect the people and trust their guidance. People need to learn to respect the dogs and trust that they can learn. It’s important that people understand that dogs actually want to please their owners, and why.
Once there is mutual respect and trust, the next step is clearing up the communication between people and their dogs. We act as translators, Human to Canine and Canine to Human. We actually teach people how to speak canine. Once we have everyone speaking the same language, we work on the actual issues. Frequently the issues start to fall away pretty quickly once there is respect and the communication is clear. As the issues get resolved the relationship improves. There are smiles on the faces of the people because their dogs are responding and there is joy in the dogs because they are getting praised instead of being yelled at.
There are no broken spirits. We never use harsh treatment, prong or shock collars which can breed fear and aggression. There are usually stronger bonds than ever before. We worked with a couple the other day who had not been able to pet their dog Lucy in over a year. Every time they tried she became very hyper and mouthy. By the end of the session they were able to pet her as she calmly accepted their affection. They were amazed and Lucy was happier. It was a WOW moment for them and it was one of those moments that remind me of why I love this job so much.
Do you want help with your dog? Or do you have a friend who might need help? We can help without breaking anything, spirit or otherwise. Give us a call.
Dog training is not about changing who your dog is . it’s about changing misbehaviors and miscommunications so your dog can shine!
7 Ways to Unwittingly Break a Dog’s Spirit
If that’s all you heard, day in and day out, just how low would your spirits sink? We know beyond a reasonable doubt that dogs can feel sorrow and get depressed, and the very essence of who they are as a species is threatened by a very common predator: mankind.
Here are seven things that are guaranteed to destroy your dog’s spirit. Read on to see how many you hear about, read about, see or engage in daily, and why you should never do them.
Scolding / Yelling / Rubbing a Dog’s Nose in Waste for Relieving Himself in the House
It is a myth that dogs know that we are mad at them when we yell because they’ve peed or pooped in the house. Finding a puddle of piddle in the house may not be pleasant for humans, but dogs do not feel guilt when humans show their disapproval. Instead, they are reacting fearfully to the emotional response of their owner, regardless of when the accident occurred.
Screaming or yelling reinforces bullying, and because it usually happens long after the accident, the dog is left confused and afraid of you. They still won’t make the connection if it happens just after. Never, ever rub a dog’s nose in poo or pee, as this is not only disgusting, but it comes from an old-school mentality that is just plain mean.
Hitting a Dog
Long gone are the days of dominance dog training and animal submission. Hitting is a very outdated dog training method. All hitting does is teach the dog that you are to be feared.
If you need something to hit, take it out on a punching bag at the gym and look into anger management counseling. Do not, however, bring a dog into your life. He or she does not deserve this treatment.
Punishing a Dog With «Time Out» in a Kennel
If a puppy is not cooperating or not doing the desired behavior during training, it isn’t that he is being “spiteful” or defiant; he is just being a puppy. It is your behavior that needs to be modified. Consider the task at hand and reconsider your dog training methods.
Also, it could be that the puppy is distracted, or isn’t developmentally ready for that task. The same holds true for adult dogs. If an adult dog does something you are not pleased about, never punish or banish him to a kennel.
Taking a Dog’s Food or Treats Away While Eating
Not only is it ridiculous to take away dog food or treats, especially when they are eating, but it serves nothing more than to assert what a grand bully you are. It’s helpful to teach your dog instead that people being near his dog bowl signals that something good is about to happen, like getting extra-special treats, rather than an attempt to take his resource away.
While your dog is eating, toss goodies like freeze-dried dog food toppings in his bowl so your dog starts to welcome your approach. If you’re concerned by the intensity of your dog’s reaction when you get too close to his food bowl or bone, reach out to a force-free trainer for help addressing your dog’s resource-guarding behavior.
Not Walking Your Dog or Engaging in Quality Time
If you want something that lives, yet requires no attention other than to give it water and occasional sunlight, get a houseplant, not a pet. Dogs thrive on companionship, and without mental and physical stimulation, they slowly wither away.
Have you ever seen a dog in a shelter who gets little to no interaction, and how sad and destroyed his spirit becomes? Do not let this happen to your dog. We are all busy, but our pets rely on us. Walk away from the electronic devices and walk with your dog instead. No matter a dog’s age, they need to interact with you.
Leaving a Dog Alone for Inordinate Amounts of Time
Again, if you want something that can spend most of the day alone, this is the time for a houseplant, not a pet. Dogs need companionship—not just for the emotional connection and to truly thrive, but for their physical well-being, too. Would you like to hold your pee in for 10 to 12 hours a day? In fact, some dogs will do this just to not upset their owner.
Other dogs will pee inside because they can’t hold it (and shouldn’t have to), and then the owner gets mad upon return. Seek the services of a family member, friend, neighbor, pet sitter or doggy day care if you must leave your dog for long hours at a time. Nothing destroys a dog’s spirit like emptiness, so don’t do it.
Allowing a Dog to Suffer
If an animal is hurt or injured, please seek veterinary care. Allowing an animal to suffer in pain (and dogs are known to hide their symptoms) serves no one. Yes, veterinary care can be expensive, and yes, sometimes we as pet parents don’t want to hear that our dogs are aging and showing signs of it. But we owe it to our dogs to give back the unconditional love and dedication they provide to us.
Though these are not pleasant reminders to read, they are all too true. Best advice ever: Do none of these, and if a dog you know is being harmed, speak up, do something and/or tell someone. A dog’s life just might depend on it.
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Decades old friendship celebrated in miraculous manner
Buzz Larsen (left) and LeRoy Davey toast their birthdays Sunday. The two friends, bonded by their love for bicycling, share May 2 as their birthdays. Larsen is 90 this year and Davey is 94. Photo by Mark Davis, Powell Tribune.
POWELL — Buzz Larsen and LeRoy Davey have a lot in common. To start with, May 2 is both of their birthdays.
Davey, a former Powell math teacher, was born in 1929. He was a popular junior high math teacher, teaching generations of students in his decades in Powell.
Larsen, who operated Larsen’s Bicycles in downtown Powell from 1973 to 1996, was born in 1933.
You don’t have to be a math wiz to know they are old friends. Davey taught Larsen’s daughter, Laurie, and Larsen supplied the Davey family, including wife Marge and children JoAnne, Jacquie and Susan, with bicycles.
“Mr. Davey made math fun,” Laurie Larsen said.
The two men met at the bike shop in the 70s. Davey wanted a bike and Buzz had some for sale.
Their obsessions with riding area roads brought them together; sort of. They both were active cyclists well into their 80s, often doing the legendary Old Guy Loop — a 24-mile ride out of Powell on Avenue E to Wyo. Highway 294, then south to U.S. Highway 14A, taking the four-lane back to town.
But they rarely rode together.
Instead, they’d ride opposite directions on the loop, “stopping in the middle to talk,” Laurie said.
Another thing they have in common is wrecking their bikes.
Davey has twice been hit by cars while riding in the region. He suffered at least one broken leg in the accidents. Larsen has twice become entangled with dogs while riding, forcing him to the ground; broken bones on contact.
“He broke his jaw and spent a week in the hospital,” Laurie said.
They both quickly recuperated and never let the incidents deter them from getting back in the saddle.
Though they don’t ride anymore, both are still tough as nails. Ten years ago they did the Old Guy Loop with a group for their birthday celebrations.
Family and friends threw both of them an old-fashioned picnic Sunday — a risky party planned for outdoors during Wyoming’s volatile early spring.
Luckily, it was as close to a perfect day as they could have hoped for, with a gentle breeze and the smell of burgers, hot dogs and fixings wafting through the neighborhood, co-mingling with the sound of laughter.
Yet the miracle weather wasn’t even close to the top miracle of the day.
Last September, Marge and LeRoy Davey were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary after LeRoy was moved to Cody Regional Health’s Spirit Mountain Hospice House. It didn’t look good for LeRoy at the time and he was forced to trade in his bicycle for a wheelchair.
Fortunately he started feeling better, heard to say on occasion, “I’m real slow at this dying thing.”
They eventually kicked him out of hospice care and, after a stint in a care facility, he returned home.
Fast-forward to the Sunday afternoon party a few months later: Buzz was opening birthday cards and sipping on a Flying Start IPA next to Pat, his wife of 25 years, when LeRoy came bopping around the side of the house on his own power (with the help of a walker) looking for his birthday buddy in the crowd of more than 50 partygoers and a cold Guinness.
Neither wanted a big party.
“They didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but we’re making a big deal,” Laurie said before a warm rendition of the crowd singing, “Happy birthday.”
This story was published on May 2, 2023.