Author: Killian Davis,
After some reflection, it has become increasingly interesting to me how our relationships with our dogs manifest, especially in relation to ourselves and our vision for those dogs.
2-3 years ago when Charlotte was new to me and I was determined to get her in a competition setting (didn't really care which one, just wanted to "compete" and be a "real dog person" like those around me who seemed to be able to do all kinds of things with their dog), I had a poor relationship with her, but more than that, I had a very poor relationship with myself. After a year or so of frustration (on both ends, for sure), I decided to let Charlotte "be" and stop any type of formal training.
Since that decision, I have learned to love Charlotte and to train Charlotte where she is, as who she is. I only worked on behaviors that had no real meaning to me (hence her repertoire of tricks and fitness training) and those that I needed in order to take her out in public (leash manners and impulse control). Along the way, I was figuring out how to accept myself for who I am, where I am, and how I am. As I have worked on coming to terms with that and moving into a more collaborative mindset with myself, my relationship (and thus ability to get the training results I wanted) with Charlotte hugely improved.
With that being said, it makes me wonder about how much people project their own issues onto their dogs, and how much people could improve their relationship with their dog by improving their relationship with themselves. How you speak to yourself matters, and how you speak to yourself sets the tone of your interactions with other people, thus carrying over to your relationship with your dog, who is a type of an extension of self for many people.
So my question to anyone who has read through this long post is this: are your dogs behaving the way they do (insecure, fearful, reactive, aggressive, etc.) as a mirror of yourself and your own issues? (Obviously I'm not talking about major behavioral issues here, but the more subtle energy of your dog and their behaviors that you attribute to their own personality, which is certainly partially informed by yours). How could you improve your relationship with your dog and your dog's voice and perspective through changing your own thought processes and how you approach life, including the challenges it brings?