Let it Go – Stop Feeling Sorry For Your Dog

This article explains why it is unhealthy to pity or feel sorry for your dog. No matter what your dog has been through, pity will create behavioral issues. This article explains that most dog-owners, especially those who have adopted a rescued dog, don’t realize that feeling sorry for your dog does emotional harm.

All Dogs Should Be Expected to Behave


I was listening to Cesar Milan on a radio station a few weeks ago trying to answer the question, “why do you think so many dogs get returned from shelters and pounds?”  What Cesar tried to explain was that people feel sorry for the shelter dog, and when they bring the dog home, they treat it with a tremendous amount of pity, they treat it like an orphan, and let it get away with very bad behavior.   They won’t correct the dog, because it has been through so much. As I was listening, I realized that he really wasn’t explaining it well enough for the average person to identify with.  I felt that people listening would say, “oh, I would never do that,” when in fact they do!  I don’t think people truly realize what they should and should not do when they bring a dog home.


Be Proud of Your Dog

If you think about it, and you purchased a pup from a phenomenal breeder, you would be proud of your new pup, showing it off to everyone and bragging about its bloodline, the titles its parents have won, and your dreams for your new pup.  But that’s not how people act or feel when they bring home a pup from the pound; a pup that is emaciated, maybe is full of worms, has runny poop, cries all night long, and is confused.

Do Not Reward Fear

People who see a dog cower at the sight of as human hand for some reason want to embrace it, pet it, tell it it’s okay, and that just makes the dog even worse.  The dog has actually been rewarded for being afraid of the hand. I have had many people come to my home with their adopted dog, asking to adopt a second dog from me to keep their dog company.  Many times the potential adopters discuss in detail the horrible conditions that their dog originally came from.  They treat their dog like it’s still being abused, in other words, carrying the pity that they have for their dog in their heart and on their sleeve.  It doesn’t take me very long to realize that their dog is neurotic, and stuck.

Don’t Make Excuses For Your Dog’s Behavior

What I witness is a very nervous and unsure dog.  The owners make up excuses for their dog.  Their dog may growl at another dog, or show it’s teeth at me, and they make excuses for their dog.  Their dog may be food-aggressive, and they make excuses for their dog.

Is Your Dog Stuck, Living in the Past?

A few times, I’ve literally asked the couple to leave their dog with me, “go have lunch and leave me alone with your dog for an hour so I can properly introduce the two dogs to each other,” I beg, because I know that it’s their energy that’s preventing the dog’s joy.  They refuse to leave, they refuse to give me a chance, they refuse to give their dog a chance, because they enjoy seeing their dog needy, confused and unsure so they can be their dog’s savior. Their dog is stuck living in its past.  To the dog’s owners, he’s always seen as the pathetic, needy, starving dog they brought home from the filthy pound, and that’s NOT what your dog wants – and that’s not what your dog is today.


Make Your Dog’s Pity Party Brief

Since I recently worked with Winter, Shep and even before then Shy Sharon, I go overboard with potential adopters explaining to them that under no circumstances are they to feel sorry for their dog.  Even in the worse cases, like Bart and China, for example, I too feel a lot of empathy for the abused and neglected dogs that I rescue… but only for 24 hours.  After that dog is with me for a day, I brush it off and the dog and I begin a new day, begin a new journey, and the dog knows that there is not one ounce of pity in my heart for him any longer.  Those days are gone, it’s time to move on and be proud.

They call it tough love

Only on a few occasions I’ve allowed someone to adopt from me not knowing that they want the dog because they felt sorry it-it always ends in disaster.  Yet people are more attracted to the damaged dogs than the perfectly fine dogs.  Dogs like Chaz, for example, has never been in a pound, he was never abused or neglected, he’s just a great dog.  Yet 99% of potential adopters want to adopt the sad abused and neglected dogs, like Shep. While I was trying to explain this to a friend last week, I used an analogy that just came out before I realized I had just had a major Ah Ha moment.

Tiny Dancer

Your Dog Is Not an Orphan Anymore

As a young teenager, I was quite a handful.  I was disrespectful and rude to my parents; I thought I knew everything.  I didn’t appreciate how hard they worked for the family, and how lucky I was.  Every heated argument ended with my Mom or Dad saying, “if it wasn’t for us, you would have died; we saved your life.” Those words always ran through my veins like ice.  Instead of being grateful that they adopted me (a sickly three month-old baby abandoned by her mother and given to a catholic orphanage) it did the opposite-I resented it.  I did not ask to be there, I did not ask to be adopted, and at three months of age, I certainly had no say in selecting my family.

My Collie, when I was just a kid

My Collie, when I was just a kid

The statement itself infuriated me.  Why?  Because I did not want to be seen or treated like that pathetic and unwanted orphan.  I wanted to be appreciated for who I had become.  I did not want to be a sickly orphan, I wanted to be their healthy yet combative teenager daughter! I remember thinking to myself, if they were so unhappy with me, why did they adopt? Today, of course I realize that this was normal teenage rebellion and if we wouldn’t have fought about that, we would’ve fought about something else!

But I do understand that when a dog is adopted, he should be adopted because he is wanted.  He should be adopted because he will add to the family, not give the family a sad story to hang onto.  Stop the Drama!


If you have ever met me, and met China, you’d understand my energy.  China is probably one of the most abused dogs I’ve ever rescued, yet when I introduce her and show her off to people, I do it with great pride.  I don’t dwell on her past, I don’t want people to feel sorry for her, I want people to see her beauty, recognize her intelligence, and more importantly witness her incredible loyalty and joy. Yes she was unwanted, abandoned, surrendered to a kill shelter, scheduled to be put down and deemed un-adoptable.  Yes, she was beaten and took months to rehabilitate, but that shroud does not follow her because we will not pity her.

I work very hard when I rescue and foster a dog with a horrible past to close that door and lock it permanently.  If you are thinking of adopting a dog from a shelter, rescue or pound, or if you are getting a dog off of Craig’s list, or a parking lot, realize that if you’re stuck in the dog’s past, your dog will never grow emotionally, because of you.

It matters not where your dog came from, it’s up to you to undo the past, and help your dog find joy.

There is no joy in pity.

I was Just a Kid

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Rammstein, Lady Di & China

Many times, when talking to people about their dogs, the describe them as “Protective” when they are really being “Dominant”.  There is also a huge difference between being a Dominant dog, and an Alpha dog.  Many times a dog tries to dominant because he’s insecure.  An Alpha dog is never insecure!  As you can see from this video, Lady Di is very sure of herself!

This video that I made this morning, shows Rammstein’s first meeting with my pack.  It looks like play, but Lady Di is determined to teach Rammstein to submit.  She needs to know she has the ability to correct, and she needs to know that he will submit to her – it’s the only way she maintains law and order in her world.  I watched the entire time, and provided a quick shout to alert the pack I’m watching, even though China is deaf.

What amazed me is how much China follows Lady Di’s lead.  Months after we adopted China, she and Lady Di fought over the Alpha position.  China is awesome, but can’t lead the pack.  After watching this video several times, it’s obvious that China has found her place to be Di’s partner!

Rammstein, just a pup, resists Lady Di’s queue to submit.  But when he finally gets it… there’s peace and harmony in the pack… now they can really play!  Way to go Rammstein!

Other Alpha Dog Articles

Canine Reboot for Debbie’s Pack

I received an email from Debbie on October 20th, 2012.  She originally asked for my help to re-home her dogs after she found Canine Connect.  Her email stated:


“My husband and I are experiencing a lot of stress regarding my two little dogs, which I love!
They have been together for over 5 years, and they love each other.  I am the one that loves my dogs, my husband just cares for them, feeding and walking, etc.   Since I am the one who is not in the home, the pets have been relieving themselves on the tile floor, all throughout the house.  They are paper trained so this is not normal.  
I am telling you this because I love my dogs, but this is probably too stressful for them.   Would it be best to give them up for someone who can give them stability?  I know I will miss them later but I don’t want to be selfish.
Daisy is a 8 pound yorkie/maltese female.  She is sweet and loving and gentle.  Sophie is a mix of several dogs, I took her in 5 years ago.  She is very afraid of strangers and if I am not around she will not go near people.  She growls at them, but has never bitten them.  She is just scared to death.  However, after she trusts you, it took about a week, she is the most loyal, loving, wonderful gentle dog ever.  She is about 5 pounds.
They have both been neutered, and are up to date on their shots.  I have not taken very good care of their teeth, which I regret.  Other than that they are perfectly healthy.  I am afraid that someone will take them, keep Daisy and get rid of Sophie.  They have to stay together!  
Please give me some advice if you can.  I am so confused!  I love them but they aren’t getting the love and care that they need.  “


I contacted Debbie and offered her assistance to re-home her two dogs.  However, I offered her help, and asked if she could keep her dogs, would she.  Her answer was yes, but how!

I interviewed her for over an hour, and she answered my questions.  Then we dissected the dogs’ problems one at a time.  I knew that I was going to tell her what she didn’t want to hear.  She was babying her dogs, and her husband’s idea to create “rules, boundaries, and limitations” for the dogs would create instant results.

I offered her a plan, and she put my plan into practice immediately.  Here are her updates:


October 23, 2012:

“I am in shock!  You have changed our lives!  The dogs on the leash, excellent.   It only took a few times putting them off the couch and they have not gotten on it again.  They used to bark like crazy when the garage door went up, they started, I told them to stop and they did.  
In the crate, together, not a peep out of them all night!  They are so much happier.  I didn’t get home til Monday at 8:00, that is when we started it, and as I said, I am in shock!
Just a question… My little dominate one, that urinates over the other dog every single time, she didn’t do it this morning.  Does that mean anything or just a coincidence?



I reminded her not to get her hopes to high, she still had much work to do, and that the dogs just may test her!  Here’s her reply:


“I do have my hopes up!  I am different, so they are different, thanks to you!  I’m not backing down.  If I can’t do this then I have to give them up.  I can see that they need things totally different than what I thought.
I cooked for them.  I altered a recipe to things I had.  They loved it!  Chicken livers, rice, green beans, carrots.  I made enough for a few days in the freezer.  It is fun.  You were right, they went potty when I took them out 30 minutes later.  
Hubby is really helping me a lot.  He feels better that the boundaries he wanted to set in the beginning are being set!  

Daisy now walks a little behind me when we go for walks’. I’m the new pack leader lol!  They laid peaceful at my feet last night and only tried to get on the couch twice.  After a half an hour I invited them up.  Quiet as mice in their crate!  No more potty on the floor either!
I am so thankful!!!”


On October 24th,  Debbie shared with me that while she and her husband were eating dinner on the couch, the pups went into their crates, and took a nap…  No more begging for food!

I continue to check on Debbie, but I think this was a great Shelter Prevention Story!


Canine Reboot for Sorayah

Brittney and Sorayah

It can’t be JUST THAT SIMPLE….

Two years ago my family and I moved to Florida with our 1 year old Great Dane / English Mastiff Cross, Sorayah. When we moved here she lacked some of the manners I would like her to have she jumped on visitors and even us household members at times. With time and stern correction, combined with her growing older, the undesired behavior ceased. The only thing left was to be sure she was going to stay on track with house training. After nearly 3 months in the new house we were convinced that she was indeed COMPLETELY housebroken. As a result we put her crate in storage and she was left to roam in the house with my mom’s dog, a 109lb German Shepherd/Bloodhound Cross.

All was well, or so we thought. After a short time, new neighbors moved in. On a few different occasions we witnessed the new neighbor children teasing our dogs running sticks up and down the fence, poking at them, yelling at them! I spoke with the parents and put an end to it! Not too long after that I decided I would take Sorayah to the park and we would go on a long walk on a cool morning. Upon arriving to the park, Sorayah exhibited very aggressive/protective behavior.
So much so, that I turned around and went home because parents of playing children and other visitors were terrified. the fear was shown in every person there, me included! I had never witnessed this type of behavior from Sorayah. She was the dog that had many days accompanied me to work in an office happily greeting many visitors and passers-by.

Time went on we never returned to the park, and eventually we found a rental home that would allow Sorayah. We moved out to our own place and left Sorayah’s crate in the shed. Over time we noticed more and more of a change in Sorayah, she would bark excessively and aggressively at visitors to our home, chased our close neighbor into the laundry room (only accessible outdoors) and stood outside the door preventing her from exiting, she would chase my children around my home and it appeared she was trying to prevent them from running and playing (if they raised their voices she would pinch the back of their arms) she began to jump on strangers and at one point attacked a small dog that entered our yard (no injuries involved but she had him pinned to the ground and lets just say she wasn’t welcoming him with a friendly hello!).

Frantic and at my wit’s end, with this behavior, I didn’t know where else to turn so I called Gisele (The Dog Liberator). Having met her when I worked for a local Veterinary Clinic, I explained to Gisele, what was going on and the behaviors she was exhibiting. Our conversation lasted well over an hour and Gisele would ask me “Think back what happened? What caused the change in her behavior?” Naturally, my mind was going back to the neighbor children teasing her. We spoke a little more and for the One Thousandth Five Hundred and Seventy Fifth time Gisele mentioned a crate. Apparently, it took me One Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy Five times hearing the word crate for that Light bulb to come on in my mind! That was it! THE CRATE! This behavior all started after we took her crate and put it in storage!!! No way it’s that easy, No way this is the root of all these problems that almost caused me to re-home my dog!

So I immediately put her back in a crate. All along saying no way this is going to change ANYTHING! Days went by and she seemed to LIVE in this crate not by force but by choice when she wasn’t playing or outside she was laying in her crate, with the door open. So I asked my children to flail and scream and run in circles in the living room, this is the time when she would have typically gotten up and pinched their arms to make them stop, we got you guessed it NOTHING! She raised her head looked at them, watched them running and playing and never even acted as if she wanted to get up and stop them. It wasn’t her problem anymore she had her own space now and they weren’t misbehaving in her space. More time lapsed and we had visitors and handymen in and out of the house we crated her and she would bark as they entered the home we asked for silence and we got silence!

Just last week I dog sat my mom’s smaller female dog while she was out of town. Expecting a ruckus when she entered our home Sorayah was interested she was intrigued, but no aggression. That dog just like the kids wasn’t in her space she didn’t mind her being there! They spent 4 days with their cages touching and spending some quality time together. They ate side by side, nose to nose, this is a dog that was aggressive toward other dogs regarding her food.

With the much needed, and much appreciated help of Gisele, The dog liberator, and a trusty crate, I am well on my way to having my friendly massive dog back!

Much to our disbelief, we realized, it was JUST THAT SIMPLE!

Canine Reboot

Nutella, labeled a fear-biter

I’ve done this dozens of times… talked to owners who are frustrated with their dogs.  Wanting their dogs to be balanced, and happy.  Sometimes it’s the wife that hates the dog, sometimes it’s the husband.  Sometimes the dog doesn’t like the kids, or the grandparents.  Dog fights, cat fights… you name it.

One of the questions I HAVE TO ask when someone is trying to surrender their dog to me is, “if I can fix your dog, can you… would you… could you… keep your dog?”  sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no.

With the launch of Canine Connect, a service that I can offer to dog owners who truly care about the dogs, truly want the best for the dogs, but can no longer keep them, I’m asking that question more often.  “What if I can fix it?”

Over the past few weeks, the dogs I’ve fostered have really amazed me.  WiiGo transformed into the best little dog I’ve ever known.

McDreamy & McSteamy

McSteamy and McDreamy, terrified of everything, quickly became accustomed to home life and family living.  No longer afraid to walk through doorways, or put their paws on ceramic tile floors.  With their heads hung low all of the time, they were unsure, slow to trust, and not sure if I was friend of foe.  Just a few days later, I introduced them to the pack, one at a time.  Once they got to meet Lady Di… everything changed.  It was as if a light switch had been turned on, and they felt “safe”.  They exchanged play bows, and the heads were held high, tails were relaxed, and the playing began!  After that day they walked with pride, there was a bounce in their step, they greeted me with affection, and their adjustment period was about 48 hours.    Dogs do live in the moment.

Little Grace, being a happy dog!

And recently, Little Grace.  She was adopted yesterday, but before she left I had the pleasure of snapping a photo of her playing with the pack… and loving it!  It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it sure was a big deal to me!  It’s called joy!  If a dog can relax enough, be happy enough, have enough self-esteem, and know that it’s not going to be hurt, there’s absolutely no danger whatsoever, and it’s welcomed… they can play!  Way to go Little Grace… you made my day!

So if what if we could simply Reboot our dogs?  If I gave you a list of questions about your dog, would you know how to answer?

  • Is your dog shy, fearful, nervous, or anxious?
  • Is your dog aggressive, dominant or alpha?
  • Is your dog guarding you or protecting you?
  • Do you know why your dog acts like he wants to attack other dogs?
  • Does your dog have separation anxiety, or is he insecure?  Do you think the two are one in the same?
  • Do you think your dog is neurotic or bored?

Snapple, an Owner-Surrender

Snapple, Adopted

What would you think the main reason why people surrender or give away their dogs?

The Dog Liberator has rescued dogs that will otherwise be euthanized, OR at risk of being surrendered to a shelter or pound.

The Dog Liberator will help you rehome your dog through Canine Connect, thus preventing the dog from being adopted to the wrong family, which may ultimately lead to euthanasia.

Remember, owner-surrendered dogs are not protected under stray-hold policy.

Owner-surrendered dogs can and are sometimes put to sleep before their owners have left the parking lot.  


Chaos learns High Five

While I have spent over three years inviting strange new dogs into my home I:

  • introduced them to my family, friends, and neighbors
  • introduce them to new experiences like visiting the vet
  • going on walks
  • teaching them not to be afraid of the crate
  • teaching them to be quiet
  • starting them on housebreaking
  • show them how to properly greet strangers
  • teaching them not to bolt out of doorways
  • correcting them when they try to climb a fence.

My personal dogs have also spent three years inviting strange new dogs into their home, and they:

  • have showed them how to share a space
  • showed them that being rewarded has benefits
  • showed them how to interact with humans
  • showed them how to play properly
  • showed them how to come when called
  • but more importantly, my pack have taught dogs, how to be a good dog.

Deaf China takes Baby GaGa under her care

Dogs can teach another dog what a person can’t:

  • I can not teach a dog that greeting face to face is rude
  • I can not explain to a dog that sniffing the rear is polite
  • I can not approach a dog and correct their attempt to dominate… that’s Lady Di’s job
  • I can not initiate play with a dog who doesn’t know how to play… that’s China’s job
  • I can not show a dog that another dog is not a threat, that is Ozzie’s job

My home is what I used to call Border Collie Boot Camp.  Every fostered dog has had to find their way to survive and cohabitate here, eat side by side, enjoy bones without being growled at, and play ball without being attacked.  The result is probably the best gift I receive in rescue.  Watching a pack of dogs run together, play together, wrestle gently, and have a blast!

Lieutenant Colonel Di, Lieutenant Ozzie, and Private China!


There is no reason for the dogs to be nervous, fearful or anxious.  My pack clearly shows them that I am the pack leader, they can relax, and enjoy being a dog!  The true challenge is teaching the dog owners that their dog truly wants to be… just a great dog!

Maybe all your dog needs is a Canine Reboot!  Email me if you would like information on how we can Reboot Your Dog! TheDogLiberator@gmail.com



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