They often say that a dog reflects his owner. Remember the beginning of the movie "101 Dalmations" with the humans walking their dogs (or the dogs walking their humans!). Everytime I see that part of the movie I always chuckle. Now, when I look in the mirror, I don't see myself as a short, white-haired, perky earred human with a slightly curled tail. So, what do I have in common with my dogs?
Lately I've been thinking a lot about what is driving the anxious behavior Oscar has and I keep coming back to my own behavior. I'm really starting to see that his is stressed because I am stressed. I work full-time, from 8am - 5pm, 5 days a week. Then I come home, play and train Oscar, then cook his food a couple nights a week, do bills, clean-up the house, do laundry, try to tackle the backyard landscaping/gardening (I cannot wait for that to be DONE!), then train dogs on the weekend part-time. Why am I doing this to myself, my husband and my dogs? Seriously. I think I need to stop trying to do so much.
It's very humbling to think that Oscar's behavior is reflecting my own. He can't stop himself to just sit and be a dog. So, what can I do to help myself...and ultimately help him (and then help me right back!)?
Well, I'll tell you what my plan is, as of right now.
- Stop taking agility classes with Oscar (Unfortunately he just cannot handle being in class with the bearded collie, Garfunkel and, honestly, I don't see that dog going anywhere any time soon. He has gotten so stressed now that he is starting to react when other dogs are running the course and that is not the state of mind he wants to be in. We have two classes left and then we are done.)
- Put him in a much more quiet, obedience-style class that is geared toward calm behaviors (We're starting that the second week in September)
- Taking him out of doggy day care one of the two days that he goes. (Although it will mean more exercise provided by my husband and/or I, I'm starting to think that his chronic state of arousal is being effected by day care 2x/week)
- Putting him on some supplements that will hopefully help with anxiety (We started Lactium the second week in August and L-Theanine last week...fingers crossed that we'll see some results).
- Be more realistic and honest with myself. Oscar is a dog and every moment of the day he is being exactly who he knows how to be...that should be respected and appreciated for what it is...
Other thoughts that are in my noodle that need to get out in this post or it's going to drive me crazy...
- I've been so willing to try different things (animal communicators, energy workers, TTouch, flower essences, herbals, essential oils, phone consults from Trish King and Suzanne Clothier) that I find it hard to settle, stay on track and give these things ample time to prove themselves out.
- I still need to get a thyroid panel done on Oscar....just to put my own mind to ease that there is nothing going on (or maybe there is!) with his thyroid that is causing him to be so anxious and have a hard time gaining weight.
- I'm not getting another purebred shepherd again. I owe it to myself to have an "easy" dog after these two boogers. I love both of them dearly and wouldn't give them up for anything, but Jesus Christ have they caused stress in my life where I didn't need it.