Now that I’ve been married more years than I was single (goodness, that’s a startling realization), I feel the right to judge the marriage advice columns I see online.
The more I read them, the more I see good advice for living with dogs.
Maybe it’s time to treat your dog like you’re married to her.
5 Marriage Tips That Also Work With Dogs
Don’t Assume Everything Will Be 50/50
Thinking that you and your partner will always give half the effort in a relationship is a disaster waiting to happen. Instead, understand that sometimes the ratio will be more like 90/10. And as long as it’s not the same person always giving 90%, you’re probably okay.
It’s the same with dogs. Doting on your dog without expecting anything in return results in a spoiled pup. But so does always expecting total obedience without giving your dog time to slack off and have fun.
Realize that sometimes your dog will be distracted or stubborn and less likely to listen to you. And other times you’ll be tired and lazy and resort to bribery instead of training. And understand it’s okay because one of you might just have to make allowances for the other.
If You Want Something, Ask For It
Nothing makes me crazier than when my newly married friends say, “If he loved me, he’d….”
It makes me nuts because I said the same thing to myself when I first got married.
If someone loves you enough to marry you, he probably loves you enough to make you happy. But he might need some help figuring out how to do that. So if you want something, ask for it.
Dogs are better at anticipating your desires than most men. They’re masters at reading body language.
But they still need clear directions from you when you want something.
Is pulling your dog by his leash the only way you can get him to change direction? Or can you tell him where to go by moving your body or tapping your leg to bring him closer?
Touch Is Important
I’m terrible at this. I’m just not a cuddly, huggy, touchy-feely kinda gal.
But touch is a great way to get your partner’s attention.
It works for dogs too.
Think of how physical dogs are with each other. They sleep on top of each other, bump against each other to make room, and paw or mouth each other.
Obviously touch is important to dogs like it is to humans.
Calm Down Before Solving Problems
Everyone argues. But when your heart is racing and you’re flushed with anger, it’s not time to “work things out.”
Go away. Calm down. Then sit down with your partner to find a solution to your problem (if it even needs a solution; sometimes people just need to vent).
When your dog has just rushed the door and knocked over a table in her excitement to get to the UPS driver, it’s not the time to train better impulse control. Your dog is still excited by the fun game and you’re just pissed.
Make a note that you need to work on a better way to handle visitors once you’ve cleaned up the mess your dog made and forgiven her exuberance.
Not Every “Problem” Has To Be Fixed
And just like you need to be calm before working on problems, once calm, you might realize a problem isn’t such a big deal after all.
Really, is the world going to end because your partner smacks his lips when he eats cereal (like my husband)? And is it worth filing for divorce because your spouse can’t do anything spontaneously because she likes plans made in advance (like me)?
I can always leave the room when Mike is eating cereal. And Mike can always do things on his own when I’m being a slug.
It’s the same with dogs.
Barking might be irritating. But didn’t you get a dog with strong guard instincts to help you feel safe? Your dog can’t tell the difference between a mail carrier and a burglar.
As long as your dog isn’t making himself sick with anxiety over carrying out his guard duties and your neighbors are too far away to complain, learn to live with it.
And next time adopt a Basenji.
There’s Always Counseling
In truth, it’s much easier to stay in love with your dog than with your mate.
They don’t talk. They’re cute and furry. And they never leave the toilet seat up.
But if your relationships with your dog is showing some strain, try pretending your married and follow the best marriage advice out there.
And if it doesn’t help, maybe it’s time to look for a
marriage counselor dog trainer.
Honey’s Birthday Week Surprise #4
Sorry, no pictures from training Honey to put her toys away. But I had to start by teaching her to “take” one of her toys from me and that was tough.
She finally got the idea when I put her Nylabone in my mouth and dropped it into her basket.
Today’s birthday surprise is much tastier.
Honey’s friends and our former foster pups, Mr. Handsome and Lil Punkin Butt are coming to visit. And everyone will get a homemade peanut butter granola ball treat (peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and rice krispies—yum).
Sorry I can’t share the yummies with everyone. But if you have a favorite picture of your dog enjoying a treat, drop it on our Facebook page to join the party virtually.
Your Turn: Do you have any good marriage tips that also work for dogs?