When you're emotionally less available - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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When you're emotionally less available

Just needing some input here. Has anyone been through a very hard time, maybe caring for an elderly parent as a caregiver, dealing with a child's serious illness, had a job loss, or grieving a death or loss of your own health... then felt badly about being less emotionally available to your dog? What happened when you went back to working with/training your dog, if he or she was young? Did you feel you lost ground in training, or that the dog developed issues due to the training sabbatical, or due to your being less attentive due to your extreme stress?

My hubby got critically ill at the beginning of March, was in ICU all of March, and passed away at the end of that month. Since then, I have been in deep, acute grief over his death. Slowly, I am starting to come out of the fog of pain. I still hurt, but am more aware. Grimm has been so patient.

I want to be ready and able to do something (training) with him. Yes, he gets groomed, fed, walked 4 times a day, and I am now able to cuddle him more, too. But, training...... he deserves me to be engaged, taking him into the village and proofing him as best I can around distractions (he is still a very young dog), and I haven't yet got the energy, mental clarity, or ability physically, emotionally, or mentally to manage that yet. He deserves it. I am sad that I am taking so long to be ready to work with him again.

I want to be ready to fill my pockets with treats, clicker, toy, and go into the market square and work on long down-stays. Then go walk over a bridge and do sits and downs. Then by kids, ducks on a pond, and walk him along a busy sidewalk. He deserves it. It is fun for BOTH of us. He needs exposure. I am frustrated at my weakness and delay in being truly ready to work with him again. (Grimm is the size of an SUV, has reactivity issues, is unbelievably powerful, requires very strong leadership, I need to be in top form before going to town with him)

What happened when you had a hiatus from being able to train a young dog with proofing around distractions? Grimm is emotionally there for me. I am more and more cuddling with him.. just not ready for the clear thinking and reactions I need to work him anywhere yet. I haven't even got what it takes to work him in the livingroom yet. Everything makes me tired still.

What happened in your situation? How was it going back to training again? Did the dog, if young, lose a lot of ground? Thanks for any input on this.

Patti
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 11:50 AM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

Dogs are very patient and very forgiving. You need to take a page from their book and don't be so hard on yourself, Patti. Grimm is there by your side and ready and willing to accept whatever attention you can give him. If it's just a pet, a cuddle, or a small walk, that's fine. Above all, he's just happy to be with you. When you are ready to start up training again, he'll be ready, willing and able. While I have not gone through what you've been through, I have gone through periods of time where I was caring for a very sick spouse, hospitals, surgeries, etc. (I know you get the picture)and all I was able to manage was making sure Gracie was fed. Training & socializing came to a full stop. When we were able to get back to it, she stepped right back in, without missing a beat. I'm sure it will be the same for you and Grimm. Hang in there, Grimm is.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 12:45 PM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

I have taken breaks from training for various reasons and my dogs actually got less one on one attention from me that you are able to provide.

It has always amazed me how fast we were right back where we had been.


Relax Patti, Grimm will be fine. Instead of making it a training session just start incorporating some of it on your walks. On your walks do one or two sits, or stays...

Betty

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 01:31 PM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

Patti, dogs are AMAZINGLY resilient and I have been through some tough times and when *I* am ready again my dogs are ready to go too. In some instances I think they were more ready when we resumed training, as if the hiatus was a blessing for them as well.


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 01:51 PM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

Oh Patti I have spent the whole winter sick! I did get out for 3 weeks in Feb and work My guys hoping to make my SCH1 this spring but then when my friend was visiting I got sick again for march and April and I had to fly to the states because my dad was dieing... and missed it totally!

I was a 6 mile ever other day hiker and goer and doer! I have felt so bad for Uly and Hella

When I do get them back into working Hella is usually so crazy it takes her a good month of working every day to settle back down again, and forget about her bite work she is usually so hectic that it takes even longer for her to settle.

But it is true they are very forgiving and for the most part patient!

I am going back this thursday to start working them again I will of course report in to let you know how physco they are

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 05:09 PM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

Boss was 14 months old when my husband became sick this past winter. It seems like our whole lives came to a halt for 3 months along with all the training/exercising of Boss. I think Boss picked up on all the emotion/stress and was amazingly patient waiting to become the center of our universe again. When we had the time to focus on training again he had backslid slightly but regained everything very quickly. It was not like starting from scratch. I have wondered if the time off also gave him a chance to slightly mature. I hope you find the same with Grimm when you feel like you are up to the task of handling more than just the necessities of the day.

Becky


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2009, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

Thanks for the input, everybody. I am glad to hear your dogs were there, eager and waiting to learn again. I'm not up to training again yet, especially the proofing in town that I wish to. But it is good to hear that lots of you just pick up where you left off, even with young dogs.

Patti
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 12:34 AM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

Patti,
I often give my guys after training real hard a month off with nothing lost atually quite the oposit with time off they usually are better after time off.

The only reason why my guys are so physco this time is because with me being sick they were not even getting their walks. I only had the energy to let them out into the garden to potty and that was it.
So at the moment we are spending time walking again to regain muscle strenght and stamina.

Suzi

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 07:43 AM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

After my husband was killed the dogs kept me going. I had to get up every day, let them out, feed them, but other than that they didn't get much else. They adapted. Vala was 8.5 months old, Nike 4.5 years and Alexis just under 2 years at the time. When I was ready to start training again, it took close to 5 months, they were ready. We had to take a few steps back, but it wasn't a lot.

Lisa Clark

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-18-2009, 04:59 PM
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Re: When you're emotionally less available

As Lisa said, you take a few steps back and pick up from there.

Going through chemo and working full time I barely had anything to give the dogs. But they waited and were ready when I was ready.
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