This is for anyone who’s struggling with their dog and thinking of re-homing. Maybe your dog is getting on your last nerve, or maybe you’ve just lost that spark in your relationship. Maybe they’ve picked up a few bad behaviors or they aren’t listening as well anymore. I was in your shoes very recently and I’d like to share my story and show you how I got out of my relationship slump with my dog in only 10 minutes each day.
The last few months have been rough for me. My Rheumatoid Arthritis has been flaring up a lot lately. The pain has been bad enough (even on painkillers) that I’ve been stuck in a wheelchair multiple times. I went through my first miscarriage, my toddler is beginning her terrible twos and I’m trying to run my own training business (because who can support a family on one income anymore anyways?). I get it. I do. Life really sucks sometimes...and sometimes our dogs take a back seat while we deal with other problems.
There came a time though, when I had so much going on that I was too tired to do anything with Demyx. That’s when our relationship began to fall apart. I first noticed the little changes. He didn’t always greet me at the door. He wouldn’t check on me when he came back in from outside (something he’s always done since he was a pup). He spent most of his time sleeping in the bedroom. He preferred to sleep on the floor instead of in the bed with me after my husband left for work in the morning.
We went to visit family for a week and we boarded Demyx. I didn’t miss him. Not once. That was when I knew I was in trouble and something needed to change. I seriously considered re-homing him. I didn’t have the physically ability to give him the exercise and mental stimulation he needed each day. He had no patience at all for my daughter at this point and I had to keep them almost constantly separated. I thought maybe he’d do better with someone else who could meet his needs.
I knew this wasn’t his fault. He was still my dog and I still loved him. I knew it was going to break my heart if I actually had to give him up. So I came up with a game plan. I knew I couldn’t do a ton for him, but I had to try.
Demyx went to stay with a friend for a few days so I could recharge and regroup. When he came home, I let all of my anger and frustration with him go and started from the beginning. Each day I made the time to spend at LEAST ten minutes doing something he loved. I brought my daughter into these games and activities to once again teach Demyx to associate her with good things (and to teach my daughter appropriate behaviors around him).
The first few days, nothing happened. I was discouraged, but determined. I kept at it. 5 days in, Demyx came in from outside and checked in on me like old times. I was so excited! Things rapidly got better from there. His anxiety and reactivity went back down. He started to initiate play with my daughter again and seemed to enjoy being around her (even when she gets a little rough). He even started to cuddle with me in bed…something he hasn’t done since he was little. He began asking me to play games and go outside. He listens much better now and has become excited about training again.
My relationship with Demyx is still a work in progress and we still have some frustrating moments, but I really enjoy the time I spend with him and our play times often last much longer than the required 10 minutes. Getting outside and spending time in play mode has actually helped me to feel much better as well. I feel like Demyx is a much bigger part of our family now than he ever was before and he’s rapidly turning into the happy family dog I always dreamed of.
If you find yourself getting frustrated with your dog and thinking you just can’t do this anymore, see if you can find ways to better your relationship with your dog. Even if all you can give is 10 minutes a day, that might be all you need to get started! There are so many ways to spend time with your dog and enjoy their company. Games, training, sports, family activities, watching movies together while cuddling…these all count!
If you need ideas for things to do with your dog or you’re at the end of your rope with them, let me know and I can help! I’ve been there. I understand. There are some situations where it is better to re-home your dog, but in many cases, that relationship can be revived and can become even better than ever!
I would love to hear your stories about your relationship with your dog!