Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Previous Dog Syndrome is the way in which your relationship with your current dog is influenced by your experiences and time with your previous dog.
Expectation is a large part of this. This can happen when people own the same breed successively, but perhaps their previous dog was atypical of the breed (ie particularly quiet, particularly calm, particularly cuddly etc.) and so their expectations for a new dog of the same breed are slightly skewed.
Having owned a dog for a long time into their elderly years can also mean that memories of puppy training and the frustrations, persistence and hard work that went in to raising them to become the stable and balanced adult that they were are distant and easily underestimated with time.
The same can be true for the not so positive traits a previous dog may have had. Concerns about the same issues occurring again with a new dog can create problems which aren't there out of expectation or worry of them happening again. If a previous dog wasn't good with other dogs for example, it can be hard to overcome the anxiety of the new dog having the same issues, which can result in owners being nervous, avoiding other dogs or busy places and depriving a puppy of the experiences and interactions which they need.
We have to go into second (or third, or fifteenth...) dog ownership, particularly with puppies, with a blank canvas, free from expectation, either positive or negative.
In the case of previous dog problems, it's just as important to build up confidence in owners as well as new pups by attending classes beyond puppy stages and socialising them with dogs you know in environments you trust. Failing to let go of the past can let previous experience impact and cause unnecessary issues for your new dog.
While our previous dogs teach us many valuable lessons and skills, each dog should be treated as an individual. We can draw from the knowledge we have accrued as previous dog owners, but should begin the journey with a new dog as just that; getting to know them, their needs and personality and catering to them as best suits them and them only!
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