Alrighty, this post is a tough one for me to write. If you’ve ever spoken to me about dog training or dog nutrition in real life you will notice I rarely say much about my own choices unless specifically asked. Why? Because everyone has their own opinion about what is right and what is wrong in regards to dog training and dog nutrition. Does that mean everything I think, write, or yammer on about is the one and only right way? hell no. I learn more (and more) every year of my life and things I think/write/yammer on about in 2015 may be completely contrary to things I think/write/yammer on about in the future; to me the only right way is to continue questioning the things you are doing to see 1. if they are good for the dog and good for you, and 2. working. It is important (to me) to accept that there isn’t only one way to work with dogs.
That said, here are some of my dog training thoughts:
- Don’t Anthropomorphize your Dog
I can feel brains saying….but, but, but, FoodLady, you anthropomorphize CONSTANTLY!?! Ah, young pups, ’tis true. I completely and joyously write funny things attributing human characteristics to my pets – mainly because it cracks me up. That said, I never never never think of a dog as a smaller, fuzzier, funny-looking human. They are not people and despite many jokes to the contrary – they do not think like people. They are a carnivorous pack animal with their own (body)language and drives.
- Don’t Compare Dogs to Wolves
This irritates the living crapola out of me. Don’t get me wrong, a lot can be learned from studying wolf behavior because they are another type of carnivorous pack animal. Yes, certain behaviors can be extrapolated between the two types of fuzzy-butts but they are NOT the same. Dogs have had a few millenia to evolve alongside humans.
- The Myth of “Finished Dog Training”
There is a wise and wonderful woman I used to work with in dog rescue who once told me,”all dogs will be trained to the minimum their humans can live with.” In other words, if it is truly important to you that your dog should open the refrigerator to get you a beer – you will find a way to train your dog to get you the beer. If the only thing that really matters to you is that your dog doesn’t poop on the floor – that’s pretty much all you will have focused on. But guess what? Every time you are with your dog, whether it be while you are slacking on the couch watching TV or if you are working with them on an agility course – you are training your dog (and/or your dog is training you). If you have an older beloved pet and there is something you don’t like that they are doing – it is time to adjust your on-going training.
I *really* wish that the only thing you had to do to have a wonderfully behaved dog is to love them. Sadly, this doesn’t usually work. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few naturally calm happy dogs out there with incredibly lucky owners who don’t really need more than love; but for the other 99% of us there is so much more required. And it is right about here that I feel the need to give a shout out/head slap to the Dog Whisperer dude – there is a man who needs to spend some more time learning and to admit to himself that he. doesn’t. know. everything. and accept that learning new stuff is okay. See, those basic tenants of his – dogs need exercise/activity and structure before love? yeah – those are great and important for every dog. That whole forcing a dog to accept something during one training session (a/k/a flooding) and proclaiming it a success right before handing that bundle of exhausted stress back to his/her owner who will just make a larger mess of the whole situation? yeah – that is a nightmare.
…there is much more to write, alas I have real world stuffs to accomplish.
*smooches* – FoodLady