Growl is an amazing class, full of amazing people. Every day I see owners who have difficult dogs take the issue head-on, step out of their comfort zone, and resolve to help their dogs succeed. This is no small task, and for many this 12 week course is just the beginning. The road to success can be riddled with set-backs, mistakes and fumbles. But thankfully these wonderful people pick themselves back up, take a good look at what happened, and try again. Retraining good behaviors is a huge commitment, which takes hours of practice and effort.
So what sets these unique individuals apart from the rest? Their overwhelming desire to change, and the realization that sometimes change only happens when we ask for help. It can be hard to see what needs changing without an outsiders perspective. I would say that the majority of Growl class participants realize that part of their dog’s issues arise from their own reactions and management. While they didn’t create the problem, they are helping sustain it. It can be something as simple as holding the leash too tight or not looking where they are going. I kid you not, sometimes the simplest solution makes the biggest difference.
But the change can also be something huge, such as learning to see each oncoming dog as an opportunity to train instead of a reason to be nervous. Our thoughts can be our biggest hurdles. If you think it, your body will communicate it. Apprehension can lead to tight muscles. Fear can lead to reduced breathing. Negative thoughts can inadvertently tell your dog they won’t succeed. Thankfully our thoughts can be easily changed. Consider that simply by smiling you can change a negative mood into a positive one. Similarly, relaxing your shoulders and arms can lead to a more relaxed mind.
I applaud all the owners who are out there trying to not only change their dogs, but themselves as well. It can seem like an uphill battle at times, but in the end is worth every bit of energy spent.