I’m going to admonish you. You probably won’t enjoy it. Think of this post as the scalpel that cuts away the necrotic tissue in order to save the patient’s life. Think of this rebuke as the life-saving maggots that eat away the infected flesh from the mountain man’s rotting grizzly bear wound. For several dog owners are indeed wounded (relationally speaking) and they also wound their dogs on a daily basis!
There is nothing cute about a skittish or nervous dog. Listen to the truth…Masses of skittish, fearful dogs are being ENABLED towards greater levels of fear and psychosis every day at the hands of their owners! Aren’t you exaggerating, Garrett? I mean you’re going to sit here and tell dog owners that some of them are enabling and even encouraging psychosis in their nervous pets! YES! Yes, I am. Let’s look up the definition of psychosis to illuminate the subject.
PSYCHOSIS: a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
The above definition of psychosis lines up perfectly (often identically) with how a majority of skittish dogs act and with how many dog owners choose to keep them! I was shocked when I read the definition because it’s precisely what I see day in and day out in our behavioral work with dogs and their owners.
The skittish or fearful dog’s thinking and emotions are “greatly impaired” or blocked and so – they act insane. This insanity, when weighed against the social baseline behavior of a balanced or relaxed dog, is glaringly easy to spot. And yet in many homes the owners may have become “dog blind” to it. (If you know what the term “nose blind” means you’ll understand my phrase “dog blind. Oh look, I’ve just coined another new phrase! A host of dog owners are dog blind.) The skittish dog’s decisions are based in unfounded fears and foolhardy, energy-wasting actions. The main problem is…the owner then allows their dog to continue making those same fear-based, psychotic decisions day after day after day – totally unhampered! There is little to no growth or change. This, Friends, simply will not do.
HOW does a hapless dog owner enable skittishness and fear? Here are a couple examples:
The dog owner enables the fearful dog by doing what the dog wants when the dog wants it. The dog owner enables the fearful dog by doing little to nothing when the dog is lunging at a neighbor or screaming at another dog. The dog owner enables the fearful dog by allowing the dog to bark at (or behave even worse towards) the guest entering their home.
Let’s compare and contrast the skittish mentally and emotionally unstable dog with the socially well-adjusted dog, shall we?
The skittish dog has senses that are misaligned. (Like the definition says the thoughts and emotions are impaired and they’ve lost contact) The skittish dog will not smell and come forward to be pet by the friendly human stranger. But the socially normal dog can easily and happily come forward for smelling, petting, and social interaction.
Another Example: The skittish dog is overly clingy and insanely needy. The skittish dog has to remain in the owner’s personal space and continuously follow the owner throughout the entire house. The socially healthy dog is flexible and can follow the owner out of relaxed interest but does not have severe separation anxiety and can choose on its own to go and lie down without being asked or told to lie down and separate from the owner’s space.
A Clearer Example: The skittish dog will NOT smell and taste the world as it should (those senses are drastically impaired due to dreadful habits often enabled by the owner) and so it fears interaction with new people or new dogs and that leads to staring, barking, lunging, aggression. The socially normal and sensually healthy dog has no trouble at all utilizing their incredible olfactory and gustatory systems and in this way they greet new people, places, and things/dogs easily and properly.
There is nothing cute about a skittish dog. People, there is something wrong! There is something wrong with an owner that chalks up their dog’s extreme and unhealthy neediness as “love” for them! You wouldn’t believe how often this happens. It is truly egregious. Be mindful of your thinking when it comes to your pooch. Let me clearly tell you now that skittish/fearful/nervous/psychotic dogs use and manipulate their owners in order to remain fearful. Fear is their drug of choice and they are slaves to it.
Foolish dog owners will say things like “I’m the dog’s person” when they observe extreme and unhealthy anxiety within their dog as it presents the problem spatially by following them around the house nonstop like a goon. The Foolish owner keeps the dog in a relationship of abnormal dependency that lacks genuine maturity and health.
Foolish dog owners will say “my dog’s just protecting me” when their dog growls and snaps reactively to a friendly passersby. In reality, the dog is protecting its own rear end and is manipulating the owner by hiding in the owner’s personal space. The owner desperately wants to believe they’ve got a real Rin-Tin-Tin or Lassie on their hands but in reality they enable their skittish dog every time they take him out on a walk or open their front door to a visitor.
Foolish dog owners will say things like, “my dog is so happy to see me when I come home” as they greet the dog merrily and (in some cases) knowingly add to the dog’s severe separation anxiety and hyperactivity! These are the behaviors that foolish dog owners often downgrade in a playful or cutesy way during conversation with others in order to keep enabling the problematic behavior or passing on the common dog myth. These are the behaviors of a psycho! (Here I’m talking about both owner and dog!)
There is something wrong when a human claims to “love” their dog but simultaneously enables the dog in a daily pattern of unnecessary fear! Genuine love doesn’t work that way. Perhaps these dog owners are the true psychos, the neediest of all, because they keep their dog stuck in a place of perpetual psychosis day in and day out!
If your dog suffers a severe mental disorder (if your dog is perpetually fearful, anxious, skittish, or reactive or aggressive), if your dog is a psycho – Do NOT ENABLE IT! PLEASE STOP MAKING EXCUSES about the bad behavior too (we hear this stuff every single day. It goes something to the tune of “We love our dog, Fido – he’s a great dog – but no one can pet him.” Remember my phrase “dog blind!” If nobody can pet your dog then the dog is a psycho and not living in reality! That’s not a “great” dog. That’s a dog and family that is desperate for help. Get some. Lets combat dog blindness together.
And don’t just “train” it with obedience for crying out loud. Learn to disagree with fear the proper way – calmly and efficiently – like the mother dog. Don’t try to mask the psychosis with tricks and obedience. Instead learn the dog language. Learn the way of the dog.
For anyone seeking greater understanding of dog psychosis and how to reverse the problem my books will help you – do your dog a favor – read them. GET THE HELP YOU AND THE DOG NEED (So Long Separation Anxiety and Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!) And if you weren’t aware, you can gift my books to a family member or friend in need or gift them to every dog shelter and dog rescue on the planet! Let’s help these psychos move forward with their life!