Dear Mishu Advice Columnist: Live Life Free, Happy, and Bold

When was the last time you felt worried? Ashlee asks, Mishu answers

Dear Mishu,  When is the last time you felt worried?  From,  Ashlee

 

Dear Ashlee,

I’m always a little worried about unfamiliar things and situations. I think it comes from my rough puppyhood (before I was rescued). Do you have any suggestions for me, friends?

Love,

Mishu

 

The Inside Story about Worried Dogs

While I wouldn’t say that Mishu is an anxious dog, she is definitely cautious.

What is the difference? When I think of anxious I think of dogs who are afraid of thunder or storms, or dogs who have extreme separation anxiety, or who pee from excitement. Mishu isn’t anxious like that.

But, like a lot of rescue dogs, we can sometimes see the evidence of past trauma. She’s suspicious of men outside of the family. She’s extra suspicious of strange men carrying things like sticks or big bags. She’s also cautious about anything new. When she first encountered stairs, she was afraid to climb them. Her first time we tried to take her out on a deck or balcony — she didn’t want to come.

We’re not dog experts, but in all of these situations we try to treat Mishu like we would anyone who’s scared. We reassured her and encouraged her. And eventually she gained confidence, was willing to try the new situation, and overcame her fears. Now she sits on the balcony/deck for hours every day, with her head on the railing, looking out at the world.

With people who worry her, say when we’re out for a walk, we do the same thing — reassure her, tell her, “it’s okay” and “shhhhhh” — and most of the time she’ll pass by without a sound.

Another way we see her past is around food — if we’re gone for the day, she generally won’t eat and drink until we’re back. If we’re away for the weekend and a friend stays with her, she’ll eat very little. This part is sad, but it also tells us that she’s a survivor.

She learned hard lessons as a puppy, and that survival instinct is ingrained in her. Even though she was still a puppy when she was rescued, she hasn’t forgotten those lessons.

We’d love to know what else we can do, besides giving her love and reassurance, to help her become more trusting and secure. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

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