WORKING DOGS AND BURN OUT
Do you have a working dog or a competition or show dog? Dogs perform such varied wonderful things to make our lives easier and in many cases more fun. Medical alert dogs save lives. Other service dogs make life easier for people with disabilities. Scent dogs can be trained to smell out cancer or other ailments in our bodies. Military or police dogs keep us safe. Personal protection dogs guard our families. Therapy dogs bring joy to people in nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages, etc. Competition dogs in agility, confirmation, fly ball, dock diving, etc. bring us fun ways to interact with our dogs. But dogs, just like people, can get burned out. Your dog can’t tell you he’s stressed or over-worked through words but he can tell you in may other ways. Just recently I have helped a handful of dogs and their people all in different situations identify the stress in their dogs and ways to alleviate that stress.
- One of the top dogs for Gabriels Angels. a wonderful therapy dog organization in Phoenix, Arizona, starting showing depression symptoms and lack of enthusiasm to go and visit the children that he works with. After discussing what was going on I recommended to give Micah some time off and his mom Mary concurred and gave Micah 2 months off. He came back refreshed.
- Another good client with a nine-year old Golden Retriever, “Harvard”, noticed that he wasn’t enjoying his work like he used to so he was thrown a big retirement party and retired from his job as well.
- Another client owns a successful water store and her yellow lab, Daisy, would joyfully go to work every day. Then she started to resist getting into the car when it was time to go to work. When mom would load her up in the car and take her to work she would sulk and not engage with people like she used to. Mom got the message and Daisy is happy staying at home while mom goes to work.
Pay attention to your working dog and be their advocate and recognize when they may need a break or need to retire.