Do You Believe in Ghost Stories?
The weather is finally starting to feel like fall. I enjoy the cool air and being cozy under a blanket with my dog and cat lap warmers. Fall is my favorite season. I love watching scary movies and listening to ghost stories.
When you adopted your dog or cat, did he come with a ghost story? We're always curious about our adopted pets' previous lives. Where did they come from? How did they end up in a shelter or rescue? Who abused this dog to cause him to slink every time he sees a man? Sometimes we know our pets' background stories and sometimes we embellish them.
Either way, let go of preconceived notions of abuse, neglect, rejection, and abandonment. Many personality traits and behaviors are heritable. Genetics contributes to where dogs line up on the shy-bold personality continuum. Instead of creating a dramatic backstory for your dog, recognize that he may have been born that way.
Genetics aren't the only contributing factor to your pet's personality and behavior. You've probably adopted your pet past his critical socialization period. He may even be in a fear period now. This requires you to do some heavy lifting to help him find his brave and make a positive association with his new world. It's more likely that your pet simply wasn't exposed to men with beards during his critical socialization period than having been beaten by bearded men. Holding onto these ghost stories may support a "wait and see" approach and postpone much needed training.
If holding onto your pets’ ghost stories is holding you back, turn the page. Build your pets' new origin stories based on knowledge, observations, patience, and training. You are your pets' sequel. Don’t perpetuate old plots by repeating tired ghost stories. Let go of the past, embrace the now, and start the next chapter!