Friday, January 29, 2010

Lesson Learned

Last night I took Kona to CGC class. Bad idea. I don't know what went through my mind when I thought my dog, who is scared of parking lots, would be able to handle an outing through a strip of coffee shops and restaurants.

The class gave the dogs the chance to practice their CGC drills in the presence of extra distractions. It would be great for any confident dog. Bad of Kona.

I won't go into details, but she was terrified. I was a bad guardian and I didn't leave before she escalated. At the end of class, I broke down in the car. I work hard to have my dog trust me. This was a breach of that trust. What I had a harder time letting go of was the fact that I knew I shouldn't take her, but fell to the naysayers that keep telling me that what Kona really needs is exposure and to deal with her fears.

Today, I'm taking this as a lesson learned. I know what is and isn't good for my dog and I need to stand up for her if I need to. I'm always learning how to help Kona cope and gain confidence, but I don't need help recognizing when she's being challenged and when she's being pushed beyond her limits.

This morning, Kona woke we up at 4am with an upset stomach. Although probably not the root of the problem, stress doesn't help Kona's GI tract. Kona needed to rest her sick belly, so I headed out for a jog around the neighborhood. I feel too naked trail running without my canine friend.

The afternoon called for more Kona rest. We'll take it easy for the next couple days.


KB said...

Don't beat yourself up too much. I find it very hard to remember that the strategies that work for me when I'm scared do NOT work for my dog. You're doing your best to learn to see the world through Kona's eyes, and I'm sure that she'll bounce right back. She certainly won't hold you responsible, that I'm sure of!

I hope that Kona's back by your side running very soon.

Sam said...

I feel your pain. Really, I do.

Just remember - and this may sound cocky - but a LOT of people have no idea how to handle fear. All of these "hey I've been in dog sport since the dinosaurs so I think I know what I'm doing!" people might really have a collection of titles and championships and ribbons that's worth bragging about. But, half of them have no idea what to do when their dog barks at something, or tries to run away. It usually goes something like *collar pop* "Stop acting up!" which you and I both know is completely wrong.

They tell it to me, too.. "Marge needs to be brought to busy places," "she has to get used to it." Yes, she does, but at her own pace.

For a split second, sometimes I think they're right, or want to believe they're right, want to fit in and have "normal" dogs like them.. so I try it anyway.. and it all goes to heck. It's human nature.

Your tears are tears I've cried before, too. But, you move on from it, and know better next time.

Sorry for the rambly comment - just want you to know you're not alone.

Sara said...

Don't beat yourself up over this. Been there, done that. Lesson learned.

It is hard to do what your gut is telling you when the "experts" around you are telling you different. Since childhood, we are told to respect our teachers, and do what they say.

I, too, am in the process of learning to stand up for my dog, even if I have to continually explain my actions (specifically my handling methods in agility). My agility teacher understands why I'm doing what I'm doing, so sometimes she explains it to bystanders for me, because she knows they think I'm doing a horrible job!

I hope Kona is feeling better soon. Oreo suffers with tummy problems too. I find after a stressful event, Oreo needs lots of rest and downtime. I hope Kona is back to the trails soon.

KristenT said...

Definitely don't beat yourself up-- there's no one right way to do these things, and you need to figure out what works for you and your dog.

I too have a nervous dog-- he's 11, and I've had him from a pup. This year has been a big challenge for him as we're rebuilding our house from the ground up. There's a lot of changes happening, but he's regained his trust in us after we moved him out of his old comfortable surroundings to our temporary lodging.

I've become quite good at recognizing when he's on edge, and have definitely believe that a tired dog is a good dog!

Keep up your work with Kona. There are a lot of us who have been where you are, emotionally, about our dogs.