Dogs make us happy, that’s why we share our lives with them. But do we make them happy? Are our expectations of them realistic? Domestication did make dogs uniquely skilled at observing us (if you’re interested, this is a good place to start), but it does not mean that the rules of the human world make any sense to them. And we surely have many rules and wishes…
We want them to…
- bond strongly to us, but be okay when we leave them home alone for unspecified periods of time;
- like other dogs, even play with them, but not get too excited when they meet them;
- engage in delightful behaviors like chasing a ball, but not chase after the neighbor’s cat;
- chill when we’re busy, but be ready to play whenever it fits our schedule…
And then there are the rescued dogs, many of whom spent their whole lives in the countryside. Then they get adopted and have to somehow adjust to city life. I don’t think we can imagine the shock they experience when they are suddenly exposed to all the noises, smells and new objects…
Yet, weirdly and wonderfully enough, dogs can thrive alongside us even under these conditions. They just need our help.
We owe it to them:
- to learn their body language and be able to recognize when they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed (or when they’re happy and relaxed!);
- to use fair, positive-reinforcement based training to teach them the rules;
- to let them be dogs and sniff and dig and sometimes roll in disgusting stuff, even if it means taking them on a trip out of town!
- to respect them as individuals and accept their preferences and limitations.
To me, the main goal of training is to ensure that your dog can deal with everyday situations with confidence and that you both enjoy your relationship. If your dog confuses you or you feel like life together is a constant struggle, train with me.