This article has good information on our attitudes toward dogs who come to us with a “past.” Sadly, dogs who have been in fight rings, abused, neglected or otherwise “raised wrong” are often rejected as adoptable because people have been told that behavioral issues can’t be changed. In other words, people believe the myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
But that myth is exactly that — wrong! Dogs can be trained, no matter their age, and that is because they live in the moment. They can forget past experiences if the owner does not allow those negative memories to bring on feelings of guilt, pity or a presumption that the dog is forever “bad.”
As I often find, the exact same is true for people, especially for children who have been labeled as “bad.” My experience as a family therapist is that once parents have a few problems with a child, they label this child a “problem child” and seek professional help. (When all he really needs is a calm, firm Pack Leader parent!)
Then once parents talk to a school counselor or psychiatrist, they usually blindly accept the “diagnosis” that their child has been given — ADHD, ODD, depressed, bipolar. And they believe the lie that this “diagnosis” is a lifelong “illness” that must be medicated and that is the only possible “treatment;” there is no “cure.”
This biomedical model for behavioral problems must be discarded as incorrect and harmful. There has never been a biological cause found for any of these “mental disorders.” These diagnoses are mere behavioral and emotional concerns, not biomedical “illnesses.” And the child’s misbehavior can be traced directly to improper parenting.
But the good news is that if these are behavioral problems, that means they can be changed! Just like dogs, children like to live in the moment. They can move past unhealthy behavior patterns if parents do so first. Pack Leader parents know that each day is a new day and they have to discard negative presumptions about a child and bring a positive, forward thinking attitude to each situation.
Dogs and people very often sense the attitudes being sent their way and live up — or down — to those opinions. Live in the moment.