Updated: Feb 17, 2021
Finally and fortunately, I met César in Madrid, a professional dog educator who helped me and eventually became a good friend. He explained that Coco perceived his environment as unsafe and too challenging. He was bearing a lot of stress, psychologically affected by his past too, and trying to adapt to his new life.
Additionally, my inexperience and frustration were a terrible reference for Coco, and my unreal expectations about my dog being "perfect" were making more harm than good. I had to understand that a dog is not a robot to be programmed but an individual with his own emotional universe and that there is no such quick and/or magic solution to "fix a dog".
From there, I started a journey to study and educate myself, and learn from the best professionals I could find who share the same values I have.
Finally, I understood Coco and understood how dogs go through different developmental phases to gain capabilities, learn from experiences and from mistakes, and be the mature dogs they have the potential to be. My commitment to Coco was to support him rather than dominate him, be gentle rather than use punishment, and be patient rather than seek a quick fix.
I wanted to manage my emotions and understand his silent language to make sure we were exposed to situations he could handle.
This is a beautiful journey in which we both are continuously learning, but in which I realized that, in order to help him with his behaviour and fears, I have much more to learn from Coco than to teach him.
Nowadays my dog isn't the "perfect" robot who just walks by my side and ignores all other dogs passing by, nor the dog who lets everyone pet him just because. But he is a dog who will trust me enough to let me know if he is not comfortable with a given situation. And more importantly, he can make more good decisions than bad or walk comfortably and calmly in our city environment. Moreover, he has many dog friends to interact and play with, and people who have gained his trust is welcome at home. He also enjoys off-leash in the forest, and I give him the possibility to decide where to go in our walks on a leash. Our bond and trust are indestructible, and we both keep on improving every day.
Picture: Coco off-leash with his friend Willma