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Challenge: We love our pets

Meet Jake, my new life coach

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My 11-year-old dog doesn't like other dogs, and to be honest, I get it.

As an adult, I don't *always* enjoy the presence of other adults.

Well, I really shouldn't say that because I'm *generally* a people person, but what I mean is that I'm quick to

fill up on socialization

and

feel ready to introvert.

For my not so young pup, he's quick to get grumpy in the presence of any other dog but his (not by blood) sister.

He wasn't always like this, and though I can't really pinpoint a specific date or reason for his newfound semi-aggressive persona around other furballs, big or small, I think he unintentionally overdeveloped this newfound instinct to defend and intimidate.

I see another dog.

I need to protect my loved one.

I see another dog.

He's probably mean, so I'll act meaner.

I see another dog.

I'm better than him. WOOF.

And, while I don't always appreciate his tendency to be the four-legged grump in the room, I'd be lying if I said that I couldn't fathom existing with such a peppery demeanor.

Salty and peppery -- what a combo!

Eek.

When you're younger, for humans and our furry friends, life is all fun and games -- for the most part.

But, as we get older, we get

more skeptical,

more fearful,

more protective of

WHAT and WHO

is ours.

It also becomes almost habit for us to expect the worst from new situations and strangers, and to quite incorrectly assume that we MUST steadily operate from a place of

ALPHA DOG.

Do I wish my dog was more friendly with other dogs?

Of course.

Because then maybe I wouldn't get those peeved looks -- as I did from another visitor at the vet this morning -- every time I take him for a walk or anywhere outside of our home.

But, can I sort of understand my little four-legged guy's trepidation to connect with others?

Absolutely.

Making friends is hard at any age, but making adult friends, well, that's even more challenging.

I see another person.

Quick! I need to protect my ego.

I see another person.

She's probably mean, so I'll just ASSume that about her and then ASSume that my ASSumption is accurate like a...donkey.

I see another person. I'm way better than her, duh!

It's a crappy way to live,

so grumpy,

so judgy,

so high and mighty.

It's a much better way to live when you

talk,

listen,

connect,

and are always kind.

And so, I'll work with my Jake bud, via good 'ole conditioning and talking to, on associating new dog strangers-who-could-very-well-be-friends with joy and play, and perhaps, we as adults should also work on conditioning ourselves to associate new people with

connection,

friendship,

acceptance,

joy,

and, ultimately, our growth.

Whoa. Did I just learn a lesson from my dog?

YUP.

Meet Jake, my new life coach.

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