Nothing irks me more than hearing about how someone was told their dog is just “strong willed”, “dominant”, “stubborn”, etc. Really the list could go on! Frankly, people do it daily with kids too. Then when caregivers want help in dealing with their “strong willed” loved one they are told to not be such a pushover. Wow! That may come at a high risk for both the caregiver and the loved one. If I had to change everything that came naturally to me as a caregiver, I’d probably just quit while I was ahead. Or worse, become a real b**ch of a person to live with. Neither sounds like a great option! So why is it that we have to put such labels on individuals? Does someone really believe that Fido has a “stubborn” spot in his brain or in his bones?! Surely not! What I could imagine the labeler is doing is either a) giving up because they don’t understand the individual’s behavior or b) describing a set of behaviors. Let’s hope it’s the latter! At least then we have something to work with. After all, I don’t think even the best orthopedic surgeon in the world can treat that “stubborn” bone anyway. So, what’s the solution? Let’s talk about an individual’s behavior just as that, behavior. Behavior can be modified. Better yet, professionals can even teach caregivers how to modify their dog’s, cat’s, or kid’s behavior. What’s more, the caregiver doesn’t have to change who they are completely to facilitate that change! All they need is training and a clear training program to follow! So here’s to professionals (and everyone for that matter) giving up the use of labels and getting down to behavior.
- BTD Houston