The most important thing you can give your new pet: Patience
Special to The Union
We just took a dog from a shelter that was going to be put down due to having two bites on the dog’s record. Human mistakes that are compounded by the reality the dogs can’t talk or share how scared they are and what they need from you.
We often see dogs tagged as biters and frankly they are victims of well intentional dog loving people who have no patience and want to fix the dog — right now. Most of us humans — including us dog lovers — have too little patience.
We want to fix things but are often better off leaving them alone, and allowing the dog to figure out he is now safe and you won’t insist on grabbing him until he or she is ready.
This dog came to me and was scared to death. It’s tempting to want to comfort them but that is the very worst thing to do for a scared dog. Let them decompress and see that you are not to be feared.
Respecting their emotions and the right they have to decide when they will trust others is a gift we need to teach ourselves to give to these frightened dogs.
Nellie has been with me about two weeks now.
She is a Doxie that is fully vetted, has had her dental and is five years old. She is a doll. Her build is a short body but full on Doxie so her back is not as vulnerable to back issues as with most Doxies.
She is sleeping with me and my other two dogs.
I have not picked her up but she now jumps in my lap for hugs and kisses. She loves me and all the visitors who have been in and out the past few days, but we are still going slow. I want to be certain we don’t do anything to trigger her fear of strangers until she’s met everyone slowly and learned with time that no one her is insisting on being her “fixer.” She is just fine as she is right now.
I’m beginning to take her places slowly to acclimate her to the outside world, but for now we’re still going slow. Erring on the side of caution is always a good idea.
The true lesson here is that dogs need to be allowed to trust on their own timetable. Patience is a great way to show your love and often times less is more with many of these shelter dogs that come from challenging experiences .. and maybe just any dog that doesn’t know you well yet.
We will do full disclosure about her bite history and we will find her a home with no children or grand-children just to be cautious, for her sake as well as others. But I’m convinced if the adults in her life had not insisted on being her new best friend on their time table instead of hers, she would not have a bite on her record.
The valuable lesson here is to let the dog come to you and to not hurry that process up, but in fact go slower than necessary to build trust from the dogs perception. This is truly the best gift you could give to a fearful dog.
Susan Wallace, retired attorney and Founder of Scooter’s Pals, an all volunteer animal rescue and nonprofit.
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