My girlfriend said this as we were discussing the past year with Asha. Yup. It’s been a year since we let this little pit bull mix into our lives. That sweet-but-timid (roughly) two year old pup is now a sweet-and-confident (roughly) three year old pup. But this transition from timid to confident didn’t just happen with the passing of time. We worked diligently to teach Asha what was expected of her and what she could expect from us, and as she became more comfortable with both of those things, she started to fulfill her pup potential at an alarming rate.
Teaching Asha what was expected of her essentially meant working with her on the basics and using those basics in her day-to-day life. Though some things were trickier than others, she was overall a breeze to train: Very food motivated and very eager to please. It was obvious from the start that Asha truly wanted to be a sweet, cuddly, obedient pup. “Bad behavior” was never a real issue with her. No accidents to speak of, very little in the way of inappropriate chewing, she didn’t pull much on the leash, didn't jump on visitors, has never tried to dart out the door… You know, all those things that most dog owners gripe about.
It was the other side of things – teaching her what she could expect from us that really made the difference. Can she depend on us? Yes. Do we provide structure for her? Yes. Can she/does she look to us for guidance if she’s unsure of something? Yes. Asha’s biggest challenge seemed to be of the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” variety. Like, “You guys seem really nice and give me food, but one of you might eventually hit me or toss me back on the streets, so I’m not gonna get 100% comfortable.” Though we will never know exactly what her life was like before we adopted her, it’s pretty safe to say that there was no structure, no dependability. And adding structure and dependability into her life were key to teaching her to trust us and building a bond with her. It's why she really is "even more lovable now for some reason." It's confidence, and it looks good on everybody - even dogs!
Happy Gotcha Day/Well, We'll Just Call This Your Birthday Too, lil' pup. You're awesome.