Frequently, it feels, we are all so often rushing, rushing, rushing. And with that rushing, putting pressure on those around us, including our dogs, to hurry up and be who we need them to be. We give small credit to one of the most effective magic wands I know: space and time.
Whether we want our dog to focus on us and not the smells or dogs around them at a dog show, or we want our little puppy to be able to sleep quietly alone in his crate, sometimes if we stop and slow things down, giving our pup the space, time and support to go at the speed they need, magic can happen.
A good friend of mine recently reminded me of this with her new pup. He’s a lovely little guy, wonderful in every way, except within moments the first night home it was apparent he was not ok with being alone in his crate. Now, my friend could have pushed the issue. Forced him to spend a, likely sleepless, night in his crate, alone and afraid. Or she could have panicked thinking “Oh my gosh does he have separation anxiety?! He hates the crate! What are we going to do!?” Or she could have decided, “He hates the crate, it’s useless to use it, I’ll just pack it up and put it in the cellar.” Or a myriad of other decisions that likely would have created more problems than they solved. Instead, she did something very sensible, and yet often forgotten, she created space, time and support.
She recognized that for this young pup, everything was now completely new. Away from the safety of his litter, the smells of his breeder’s home, with new strange people, no other dogs to take his cues from. All of those changes would likely unsettle even the best of us when we were small. So, she set up an area for her to sleep on the floor, created a safe area that included the pup’s crate in it with the door open, and she calmly soothed him until he fell asleep. Each night for the first week home, they did this, and during the day she fed him some meals in the crate (with the door open), played some crate games and left the crate open and available to him. After a few days, she noticed he was starting to go into the crate on his own to take naps during the day. After a few nights, she noticed how quickly he was now relaxing to go to sleep at night in the crate (with the door still open). After a week, as she was getting herself ready for bed, she found her pup already in his crate, having taken her cue that bedtime was near. He had gone into the crate on his own and was already sound asleep. She quietly closed the door, and they all had a peaceful night of sleep. Using space, time and support, in one short week the pup who couldn’t sleep soundly alone in his crate, was now there, and my friend back in her own bed.
When we are able to meet our dogs where they are, and create supportive plans for them to learn at their own speed, in their own time, taking our cues from them on when to progress closer to our own goals for them, we are using the magic of space, time and support. Which often is an effective recipe for change.