Let Pro-activity Rule the Day!

Let Pro-activity Rule the Day
Pam Dennison © June 2015

In my last blog post, I gave you permission to be an advocate and protect your dog. While you may like that in “theory,” you may not know what you are allowed to do in “reality.”

As you may know, I work with a great many aggressive dogs (and “normal” ones too) and have been since 1996. Because I too owned a human aggressive dog and learned some lessons the hard way, this topic is very near and dear to my heart. I’ve been seeing quite a bit of what I’m calling the “passive bystander” phenomenon. Yes, it’s an imperfect label, but I thought it was a good place to start.

The dictionary definitions are:

adjective: passive
accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.

noun: bystander
a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part.
synonyms: onlooker, looker-on, passerby, nonparticipant, observer, spectator, eyewitness, witness, watcher, gawker.

So what do I mean by “passive bystander” in the context of working with an aggressive, reactive or shy dog? Pretty much what the definitions say – someone who doesn’t know what to do when faced with their dog’s provoking stimuli. They do nothing to prevent a reaction and may stand there passively while it happens. Sometimes it “seems” as if they continually put their dogs in situations they can’t handle in the hope that one day, some day, their dog will miraculously “get over it.”

These owners are not stupid, stubborn, dominant, lazy, nor are they being disobedient. They simply may not know that they do in fact have a choice – they can protect their dog.

I now give you permission to be pro-active instead of reactive!

Dictionary definitions:

adjective: proactive or pro-active
(of a person, policy, or action) creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.

adjective: reactive
1. showing a response to a stimulus. “Pupils are reactive to light”
2. acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it. “A proactive other than a reactive approach.”

You already know your dog is going to react to a certain stimulus, so instead of being a “passive bystander,” why not take into account how your dog will react?

We think ahead for so many things in our lives;

  • We plan our vacations – hotel, travel, packing, visa, pet sitting, mail pickup, plant watering – you name it, we plan for it
  • We plan our errands/jobs for the day
  • We plan out menus
  • We plan to slow down at the top of the hill if the road is snow covered, so we don’t crash or slide through the traffic light at the bottom of that hill
  • Trying to fix a behavior after it’s already happened is impossible. Let me repeat that. Trying to fix a behavior after it’s already happened is impossible. (Think “Crying over spilt milk.”)

    Setting the dog up to not make the mistake in the first place is easy – with forethought and planning, protectiveness and trust. I give you my permission to be pro-active!

    Posted in Blog.