As we start the new year, the inevitable lists begin to show up. New Year's resolution lists, want lists, to do lists, dieting lists -- the lists go on and on. I've come up with a new list; one of memorable dog training challenges of last year.
1. Dogs named Bo, Joe and Moe. No kidding, all in the same house. One can only imagine the chaos and confusion of having three dogs all answering to --or collectively ignoring -- a similar sounding name. After an hour of "Bo, no!" and "Joe, no!" I told the owner I could take "no Moe" and we discussed necessary name changes for all.
2. The "My Dog is Dumb" syndrome. Many a client will describe his dog as a few kibbles short of a bag, wrongly assuming that the dog is incapable of learning. The bored dog at the end of the leash looks to be thinking the same of his owner. These are such fun cases to work with, because once we can teach the client how to relate to the dog in a canine way, learning becomes easy, and success is achieved. So, bring on your "dumb" dogs -- a good trainer will prove to you the brilliance of your canine friend.
3. The Wrong Dog and Owner Combination. Time and again we see people matched with the wrong dog for their situation or lifestyle. Dog and owner are caught in a failure chain, as neither individual can meet the needs of the other. The senior citizen with a crazy Border collie, the 6-year-old with the Great Dane, the marathon runner with a Basset hound, the knitting nester with a German Shorthaired Pointer, the infirm individual with a young puppy. Training will not supersede the essence of the dog's character or activity level. The solution for this is simple -- know what energy level you are able to handle for the next 10 years, and then choose a puppy or adult dog accordingly. Don't expect to bend the will and nature of the dog's spirit -- you won't succeed.
4. The "Its My Child's Dog" syndrome. Parents, take note. No matter how much your child wants to be involved with obtaining, training, and caring for a dog, the ultimate responsibility is yours. Should your child be involved? Absolutely, but at best it is a joint project, and as your child continues to grow and develop other interests, the family dog will continue to require care, training, and companionship, and that's on you. So, if you do not have the time or interest to take on a new furry family member, skip the puppy, and get your child a goldfish. Note: Pet fish can be trained to do tricks too!
5. The "She's Not a Dog, She's a Person" disorder. Contrary to current pop culture trends, dogs do not need or enjoy being dressed up in costumes, spritzed with cologne, or used as an accessory for an outfit. No matter the breed or size, dogs are canines, and to ignore their needs as a species is to do them a great disservice. Dogs will put up with all manner of ridiculous things we humans thrust upon them, but embracing and providing your dog with what her true canine needs are is what takes your relationship with her to the next level.
6. "My dog is a vegetarian, just like me" delusion. One merely needs to open a dog's mouth to know that canines -- wolves, jackals, foxes and our own dogs -- are carnivores, as proven by their long canine teeth made for tearing and gulping meat. If dogs were meant to eat plants, they would have a set of molars for grinding, like a cow. No. Just no.
7. "My dog is sooo smart!" Yes, actually, he is. All dogs are smart, and when given the opportunity to learn with proper training, they will amaze you with their brilliance!
(Contact Lisa Moore in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352.)
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