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You Screwed up. Big Time

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You got mad.  Really really mad.  And you did something that you regret. or…

You followed directions.  Did what you were told to do, even though you weren’t too sure about it.  And now you regret it. or…

You let someone else handle your dog, and they did things that you would never do. And now you regret it.

It doesn’t matter what happened; now you feel like crap.  You did something to your dog,  or you let someone else do something to your dog, and from your point of view, it was horrible.

Now what?

One of the reasons that dogs get along so well with humans is their ability to forgive.  To move on.  To take each day as a new day and to live in the moment.

I’m not saying there won’t be some fallout because there probably will.  But what matters more than the past is the present and the future.

Even if whatever you did went on for weeks, months or years, the odds that your dog will move on when you do is really pretty good.  Not all dogs, but a fair number.

Do a little better going forwards.  Give out a few extra cookies the next time you’re hanging out together; that’s a pretty decent doggy apology. Unlike a mistreated child, there will be no calling you out in therapy sessions twenty years down the road. It really will be over.

Unless you’re one of those woman who holds guilt to your heart like a drowning child, refusing to let go, but that’s not about the dog.  That’s about you.  How about considering the 99% of the time when your dog is living the coolest life with every possible comfort?

An extra cuddle and a hug will do a lot.  The easiest, most no brainer training sessions for the next while. Your dog wins and wins and wins.  Any signs of discomfort in your dog should be met with a smile, a few more cookies and the end of the session.  Next time, make it even easier.

If you can move on, your dog can too.

It’s going to be alright.  That why we love our dogs.  They love us, even when they shouldn’t.  And what’s super cool about humans is that we can plan in advance, so that in the future we really will do better.

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

13 responses »

  1. I so believe this and thanks for saying it. It sure isn’t worth ruining the future for what happened yesterday.

  2. Awww this is lovely 🙂 A good reminder of how forgiving dogs are.

  3. A timely reminder to us all that it is always us that screw up and not the dog!! Great post Denise!

  4. Love this one! I tell people this all of the time and people don’t want to believe it. Yet it is one of the things we love so much about dogs. Their ability to let things go and be happy.

  5. loved the article!

  6. Thank you Denise. I am currently sitting in this same scenario and trying to be a more positive as well as motivated handler to compensate for a few “ucks” that happened to my dog and I a while back. This just helps to let me know it’s not the end of the world. We’re getting there. Small steps, but were getting there. Thanks.

  7. Thank you for this! Every time I screw up and I feel like I betrayed my dog, it eats at me. And then there is all the “before my full conversion” to R+ training…

  8. Margaret Walker

    This just came this morning and I thought it so timely in view of what you said about ‘ losing it’ with Spree. DF must have been reading your mind – just kidding. We all do that at times – we are only human!

    Sent from my iPad


  9. I spent 6 months undoing what an instructor did to. My dog trying to force her to stay. I was not concerned and have never gotten upset about a broken stay. I was working on a drop on recall.

  10. “You let someone else handle your dog, and they did things that you would never do.”

    This is the way I feel every time I visit a veterinarian, and it’s getting worse as individual practices are being bought out by chains with “practice managers” and rigid protocols that prohibit the owner from participating in handling, or even being present for many simple procedures. Few vet techs are trained in low stress handling of companion animals. Over the years I have found vets/practices I am comfortable with, but not where I currently live.

    There are credentials we can use as guides to whether a trainer will be a good match. It would be nice if there were similar credentials (e.g. a “low stress handling” certification) that would help owners choose suitable veterinary practices.

  11. Thank you for taking time to write this post. I recently brought a dog home after a few months with a trainer and have been having these very “self chidings” rattling in my head. Now to go about repairing the damage.

    Sent from my iPad


  12. Thanks for the reminder that dogs live in the moment. I have huge regrets about what I have allowed trainers/instructors to do to my dogs. I need to leave the bad experiences in the past and move on. When we know better, we do better (borrowing that phrase because I love it)…

  13. Pingback: You Screwed Up | | Accade In Città

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