Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or believe you can’t, you are right.”

– Henry Ford

After writing about how limbic resonance can influence training with one’s dog, I heard from many people about their personal struggles with their own dog. One thread was common in many of these conversations, so I’d like to address it today. Many people told me that they know their own stress or anxiety negatively impacts their dog, and that their dog would probably be much better with a better handler.

It’s common to feel guilt or doubt in one’s abilities when working with a difficult dog. Unfortunately, it’s a lot less common for someone to feel pride or self-assurance in this situation.

I’d like to put a different spin on this perspective: your dog is lucky to have you. Yes, your dog. Here’s the thing: if you care enough to be reading dog training blogs online, your dog is probably among the luckiest dogs in the world. Your dog has an owner who cares about helping him become happier and more comfortable. Your dog has someone who is committed to him, who decided to work through or manage his issues so that he can keep living in his home and not end up dead or in an animal shelter. Your dog more than likely lives indoors, gets plenty of food and water, and perhaps even has some luxuries such as toys or a soft bed.

Your dog is lucky. You are a good owner.

Guilt can only hold you back. Acknowledge that you’re doing your best, and believe in your abilities. Believe in your dog, in your training skills, and in your partnership. Work with a qualified trainer who also believes in you.

We all make mistakes. Let go of your past and your dog’s past, and work in the moment. Think to the future. Remember, your dog is one of the lucky ones.

One response to “Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

  1. Thank you for this post. It can be very difficult working with a reactive dog, and sometimes I forget how she is lucky to have me, otherwise she might be dead. I work very hard with her but when working over a year with her and she’s not “normal” it’s hard not to blame myself. But I always have to remember that I need time for myself and can’t constantly worry about her also. It’s a balance.

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