Anxiously Waiting


The Perfect Dog

So you are thinking of getting a new dog for the family? Ideally one that is well behaved, doesn't run away, eat the garbage or play too hard with the kids. One that comes when called, informs you when it needs to go potty outside, and knows to stay out of your bed and off the furniture. Your perfect new friend will love to play with you when you want to play, but won't mind laying around quietly doing nothing when you don't have time. It won't shed too much, cause allergies or ever get sick. He or she will be a wonderful watch dog for you and the kids, but friendly and submissive at just the right times, barking only when you want it to. It will faithfully stay by your side at all times, even off leash. Your dog will understand that you work long hours and it won't feel neglected. It will know that all your personal and household items are off limits. When the kids want to play, your dog will be very tolerant and gentle and never get too rough or "bite" by accident.

The sad fact is that far too many people expect these qualities in a new dog. But think about this... the new dog you bring into your family will either be a young puppy and you it's first owner, or it will be an older dog from a rescue or shelter or other situation. Either way, the chances of it being perfect are slim to none. Puppies are babies who really know nothing about the way the world works, especially the human world. It is our job to teach them. And older dogs could have any number of behavior "issues" or past life experiences. If ever there is a perfect dog in the world, it is highly unlikely that it will be found in a rescue or adoption situation.

Our job and responsibility as dog parents is to care for, teach and train them about life. To raise them to be the closest thing to perfect that they can be. Dogs do not automatically know what is expected of them by their humans. They don't speak our language or understand our culture. They instinctively do what seems right to them in their mind. And sadly for a lot of dogs, that ends up displeasing their humans who then decide the dog needs to go to a different home.

Training is so much more than just teaching the dog to sit, stay, come when called, or roll over. Think of training as guiding and showing your dog what is expected of them in their new home, and teaching them right from wrong. It is imperative that you assume the role as leader in the household. And that doesn't mean being mean or harsh, but simply to help the dog understand that you set the rules, they obey them. You set boundaries, you give them permission to do things, and they are to behave the way you want them to. Dogs will inevitably do the things that are natural to them, it's up to us to teach them our way of doing things. That's what training is all about.

The perfect dog-human relationship is one in which there is respect and trust from both. The human holds the leader role and the dog the follower. The human's life is priority and the dog is there to bring an added joy and companionship to that life and all the famiy members, not to run the household.

The dog-human relationship that exists in far too many households is that the dog is never taught anything about life, rules, or expectations, and therefore it is left to make it's own decisions about how things should be done, thus assuming the role of it's own leader. There is no trust or respect, no authority, no boundaries or rules. The dog then develops "behavior issues" and becomes a problem and is no longer wanted. Tragically, many good dogs go from home to home not ever understanding why they are unwanted. No one ever took the time and effort to train them and develop their potential. If you never teach your dog anything, never set any rules and stick to them, never communicate what is expected of them, and they become "bad" dogs, who's fault do you think it is? Yours or the dog's? The dog is only doing the only thing it knows to be right, because it was never taught any other way.

You can find help through local Trainers, or you can search the internet for information to help you develop a leadership role and create the dog you want. There are local dog training clubs and classes where you can learn how to be a strong and consistent leader to your dog.

Adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter can be a very rewarding experience, and a new puppy is always fun. Just remember that having a perfect dog is possible, but most likely it will not start out that way. You will have to make a commitment to work with the dog, train it and mold it into what you want. And in the end it is well worth the effort. You will have a valued companion and friend who will provide you and your family with years of joy and unconditional love. And your dog will not only be a beloved member of your family but will be admired in your community and neighborhood as well. A well trained and cared for dog is a joy for everyone to be around.