There is a fine line between the fixability and manageability of every dog issue. Whether an issue is permanently fixable, temporarily fixable, permanently manageable or temporarily manageable depends on a lot of factors. These factors includes not only the history of the issue, the size of the issue and the frequency of the issue, but also the history of the dog, the breed of the dog, the character of the dog and the owner. As with all problems, illnesses, issues, the earlier it is spotted and acted upon, the easier it is to fix or manage. The longer the history is behind each issue, the longer the time and effort is needed to fix or manage.
When we speak about whether an issue of fixable, we need to consider the magnitude of that particular issue, the history behind that issue, the dog’s breed and character and the person that will be in-charge of the dog. The most relatable example will be an aggressive dog. There are tons and tons of trainers, medications, methods, techniques, tools out there that will promise to fix aggression. But honestly, and truthfully, a 100% guaranteed complete fix will never happen with a true aggression case and this is something that you should take into consideration. When a trainer or a company promises that he/she can ‘fix’ your aggressive dog, you should run really far away. Aggression is a general term that people use to describe a dog that growls, charges, barks or bites. Most dogs are not aggressive, these behaviours are simply their way of communicating because they do not know how else to do so and have not been taught how else to do so. A truly aggressive dog with bite history not because of fear, not because of insecurity, not because of illness can not be 100% fixed but there is a high chance it can be managed through training, through hard work, through tools, through supplementing, through many different options. Why do we say that it can never be 100% fixed? – first of all, the dog has a history and an experience. When a dog has history and experiences of this magnitude, no one can guarantee that the dog will not fall back into this history when intensively triggered or challenged. Secondly, considering the dog’s environment, owner and lifestyle is important. Unless the dog is in a 100% controlled environment for its whole life, you can not ever guarantee what will happen every step of the way. This is why, an aggressive case is what we call a manageable case, not a fixable case. You can train the dog navy hardcore style, use all the positive rewards you can offer, give the dog tons and tons of good experiences but you can never control the environment, the genetic makeup and the history of the dog. With proper management, a lot can be achieved. The dog can live a happy, healthy and free life with no issue and this makes a huge difference to the dog.
The other problem that owners are frequently seeking to fix, is skittishness or low confidence level. This is a problem that may be fixable or manageable. There is a lot of levels to low confidence levels, skittishness, timidness and fear. When is it fixable? – when the problem is caused by the environment, the owner and the lifestyle. When is it manageable? – when the problem is caused by the breed, the genes and the puppyhood. For example, Bobby is a timid dog, he is scared of bicycles and trolleys. Bobby came from a good breeder with confident and strong parents, Bobby also had a good exposure during his puppyhood. In this case, Bobby’s lack of confidence can highly be due to Bobby’s lifestyle and owner. Bobby will and should become a confident dog in time to come with proper training, exposure and leadership from his owner. Tanker is also a timid dog, he is scared of flying leaves, thunder, and loud noises. Tanker was rescued at 2years old from the drain, his mom is as nervy as he is, he is always weary of the surrounding. With proper training, exposure, confidence building and leadership, Tanker will become a more confident dog, but Tanker may remain a generally more nervy dog because of his genetics or puppyhood experiences. This is when we say that the problem will be manageable but may not be entirely fixable.
Prey drive is something that is in-built in the dogs. Some breeds have more drive than others, some genes have more drive than others. With high drive dogs, it is easy to work them, easy to train them but also easy to lose them. Many trainers like to desensitise the drive of a dog, lets just say that this is completely ridiculous to us. Prey drive can be put into good use when the dog is properly trained. But is prey drive a fixable problem? The answer is simply no. First of all, it is wrong to take away an instinct of a dog. In order to ‘fix’ prey drive, you will need to remove the brain of that dog and your dog will never be the same. Prey drive is manageable through impulse control or redirection, but it is not fixable. If you offer a treat or lure the dog away with a treat when a prey is spotted, this is called a redirection, not a fix. Prey drive is an instinct that comes with certain breeds, certain group of dogs and certain genes. High drive parents will likely produce high drive puppies. Certain breeds will have higher drive than others. In order to do a 100% fix on prey drive, one would need to breed specific dogs without drives and produce such dogs down the line.
Last but not least, health concerns. One of the most common health issue that owners want to fix, is the digestion. Some dogs are born more sensitive than others. Not just a handful of dogs suffer from IBD. IBD is just a general term that vets use when a dog has stomach issues. Whether the stomach issue is fixable or manageable depends on the dog. Food can be changed, supplements can be added, feeding times can be varied. The two thing that can not be changed, is the dog and the dog’s genetics. Some dogs are genetically sensitive and will always have more sensitive stomachs, manageability can aid in the dog’s overall digestion but the problem may never be fixable. Some dogs have what we call iron stomachs, fixability may be for this kind of dogs with just a simple change of food. Once again, we see that the fixability and manageability of a problem depends on many different considerations.
Some issues and problems are fixable and some are not. Certain problem needs to be fixed if and because the problem does no good to the dog, it’s life, the owner’s life and has no up sides. Certain problem can only be manageable because of various reasons such as genetic makeup and history. Certain problem only need manageability because fixing it would mean altering the dog’s entire character. When looking to fix an issue, it is important to consider the dog that you own, the character of your dog and the magnitude of the problem, whether it is actually fixable and whether a fix is really needed. It is good to have expectations and goals when looking to better an issue/problem, but at the same time, it is also important to be realistic with and acknowledge the dog that you have.