Before Buster

18 Jan

I’ve shared before the innumerable hang-ups of my little Buster. Basically, he gets perturbed with any new loud noise or large and unnaturally moving objects that enter his little world. Some items to add to the growing list of Buster’s annoyances include the heat kicking on in our new apartment, the sound of the dumpster being emptied just outside our place and helicopters whirring overhead. Silly dog!

If that was it, I could live with his ‘issues.’ But my biggest concern on his hang-up list is how he reacts to other dogs. A helicopter or the heater will not bite Buster back despite all his snarls and gruffs. And try as he might, I doubt he could do much damage to either. But obviously, dogs are a different story. They live and breathe and have the ability to hurt and to be hurt by my dog. Not something I want to live with. So in addition to the other great books I plan on reading in 2011, I have added Scaredy Dog! Understanding and Rehabilitating Your Reactive Dog to my reading goals. I ordered it last week with a Barnes and Noble card (generously bestowed on me by the Peters family – thanks!). So as I eagerly wait for it to come in, I thought I’d record a ‘Before’ snapshot of his behavior. If the book’s suggestions really do help rehabilitate my little guy, I will share my success!!

Before: The Walk

Having a dog is usually a great way to meet your fellow dog loving neighbors. Not for me. My morning and evening walks with Buster are stealthy instead of friendly. I have observed with envy how dog interactions are supposed to work, the exchange of ‘personal’ sniffing, and how the owners are able to dog chit chat. “What kind of dog is that?” and “Oh, he is so cute!” resound in the air.  Buster and I hurry around the nearest corner or hide behind cars or buildings to avoid such interactions. Ok, that is kind of funny when I think about it now, but believe me, it isn’t in the moment.

When Buster meets or gets near a dog on our walks, he is a tense, tail up, crazy eyed, growling and sometimes lunging version of Buster. Which is so different from the gentle guy who lives in my apartment and who cheerfully meets any new human. When faced with most dogs, he is angry and scared all mixed up into a nearly uncontrollable package. And no amount of submission hold, leash corrections or even picking him up and running away have changed this reaction.

After: Goals

So I am open to any new perspectives or suggestions this book can offer. Here are a few goals I have….

Goal 1: I want to be a friendly dog person, not one who quickly does an about face whenever I see a dog or hear a collar jingle.

Goal 2: Even if I can’t have an extended conversation with fellow dog owners, I’d like to be able to pass them on the sidewalk without an embarrassing lunging display from Buster.

Stretch Goal 3: I would like to be able to take Buster anywhere without worrying about our surroundings.

I know time and effort are crucial to meeting these goals and I’m willing to put in both.  Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a great Tuesday!

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