I recently saw this quote directed towards parenting: “Don’t take too much credit nor too much blame for the way your children turn out” and thought how this, too, can be applied to dog owners.
Dogs are individuals. You may have heard or read that more than once, but I encourage you to really think about it for a minute. The faster we learn to accept this, the easier it is to help a dog be the best version of themselves. Can your dog learn to demonstrate behaviors we humans like? Absolutely! Will your strong, high-drive dog suddenly become a calm, couch potato? Probably not (and this is perfectly ok). Differences in breed traits, genetics, socialization and temperament all come into play to make your dog who he/she is. And these differences are beautiful things!
A personal case study: my dog, Zoey, was rescued at around 6 months of age. I found her trembling in a kennel at a local shelter with a cautionary sign above her door, “Extremely fearful..”. When we first began our adventure together, Zoey was terrified of men and most strangers. With training and positive experiences, her behavior has improved quite a bit over the years. However, Zoey will never be a dog that will be an extroverted, social butterfly. She’s sensitive and doesn’t tolerate improper handling or greetings. Because of her I have learned SO much. She’s made me a better dog owner and is one of the best dogs I’ll ever have.
A huge turning point for us is when I accepted who she is: a smart, sensitive individual. We cannot take full credit, or blame for who our dogs are. This is extremely freeing when we work on training and our relationship(s) and I hope it provides encouragement to you as well!