In today’s blog post, I want to talk about being sick. This past week was Thanksgiving, and on Tuesday we flew out to visit my family in California. It’s a short flight, only about two hours, but I was stressed because we had to wake up at three in the morning. So I didn’t sleep the whole night. I sat up watching movies, afraid that if I fell asleep we would miss our flight. But I’m a thirty-six year old man, so I can’t really skip sleep anymore!
I was exhausted the next day, and then I got on a plane with a ton of recycled air. And when I was at my parent’s house on the guest. Coming back, we had to get up early again to get to the airport in time. On top of everything, I’m working on stressful stuff with the business. A week of not sleeping well, flying twice, and some stress all added up. I started to feel sick, and woke up the next day in bad shape.
This was a series of little events that left me sick. When you get sick, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what happened. Whether it’s a cold or cancer, it can be hard to tell the cause. Sometimes you can point to something like smoking that led to it, but often you can’t. Say that I had spent the last week at home getting plenty of sleep, and had still gotten sick. That’s totally possible. But I believe that my immune system was hurt because of stress, and as a result I got sick with the flu.
Now, I can relate a lot of this to dogs. It’s sometimes tough to exactly pinpoint exactly what is going wrong with a dog. When someone says their dog is behaving badly, we can sometimes point to a specific event. We might be able to say: “The dog was fine, but he went to a dog park and he was bullied, and now he’s not fine.” That does happen, but oftentimes behavior problems—like getting sick—are an accumulation of things in the wrong order. The dog’s owner might be great, but they maybe they weren’t walking the dog enough or teaching them about leadership or correction. These aren’t horrible things, but they add up.
I wasn’t doing terrible things to my body, like a polar bear swim or walking around all day with frozen feet, but the combination of small things that I was doing was bad enough to give me the flu. When I’m working with clients, it isn’t always possible to point to exactly why their dog has a problem. But we can almost always peel away the layers and find underlying events that we can say were the cause. I’m pretty sure that allowing myself to become exhausted made me sick. In the same way, I can be fairly sure that this owner’s problem was that they never taught their dog about boundaries.
However, we also know the solution for the flu: fluids, relaxation, and rest. Of course, I won’t be doing these things because I’m always too busy. We know with surety that I will get better if I do this. Sure, the flu might turn into pneumonia—but doing a few simple things can almost ensure that doesn’t happen.
The same is true of your dog. If you have dog problems that have happened as a result of a handful of choices that could have been better, I can almost guarantee that the solution is putting together the right factors in the right order. I’ve seen this work with thousands of clients over the years. There are some outliers, but the overwhelming majority of the time we can pinpoint the problem and the solution. Don’t assume your problem is hopeless. There’s always a solution!