Many of us envision an ideal dog. For some, it’s the gentle couch potato resting his head on your knee while you read. For others, it’s the dog who swims, camps, hikes, and runs beside the bike. And for still others, it’s something in between.
But if your dog isn’t who you expected her to be, how much time do you spend trying to change her? And how much time do you spend trying to change yourself?
No, it’s your turn to change the dog.
The past twenty years have brought amazing advances in understanding the brain, both human and canine.
Using positive training techniques, people have been able to do amazing things with dogs, including teaching them to combine nouns and verbs and how to intelligently disobey cues that would put a human they’re guiding in danger.
But just because we can teach dogs advanced skills doesn’t mean we can remake every dog to become that ideal in our minds. And it can be tough for humans is to balance knowledge that all dogs have the potential to grow with the understanding that we’re not horrible people if we can’t help our dogs change in ways we feel they need to change.
Love the one you’re with.
Once we make a commitment to live with and love the dog in our home, we can gain joy from learning who this “not ideal” creature is.
It makes me sad to see Honey flinch when a box shifts near her. Or to see her shy away from a swinging door. Or to realize she may never like riding in her bicycle cart.
But that little bit of fearfulness is also what keeps her looking back for me when we’re walking together off leash. And it makes Honey look very satisfied with herself when she persists at something that frightens her and succeeds.
I know several people who never anticipated competing in dog sports until they realized their dog needed an outlet for their intelligence and energy. And others who remain active and fit giving their hounds access to all the stimulating smells they need for an enriching life.
Did you get the dog you wanted?
Or did you get the dog you needed?
If you had expectations for your dog, did they work out? Or have you had to shift your attitude and accept that some things would never happen?
What has been the best thing you’ve received from your dog that you weren’t looking for?