What’s The Best Trait For A Dog Person To Have?

If you could strengthen one personal trait before adopting a dog, what should it be?

Kindness? Patience? Flexibility?

Nope, it’s none of those.

The best trait for a dog person to have is creativity. Let me tell you why.

Honey the golden retriever is a canine artist.

How Creativity Helps You With Your Dog

Have you ever met someone who had an amazing way with dogs? Everything they do teaches you something? And dogs love them?

When I think about what about that person makes them so good with dogs, I come up with creativity.

Being creative around dogs makes you a canine artist.

Creativity in training

It’s a good thing my dog Honey is so smart. Because I am NOT a good trainer.

Good training is creative training.

I struggled with teaching Honey to get into our bike cart. But our trainer Russ knew just what to do. He taught Honey to jump through the bike cart—in the back and out the front. Once she realized she wouldn’t be trapped in the cart, it was much easier to teach her to stay in it. (Check out Adventure Dog In Training on YouTube to see video evidence.)

Honey the Golden Retriever rides in her bike cart.

Sure it was a creative training technique but did it work?
See for yourself.

Creative, huh?

If your dog doesn’t understand what you’re trying to teach her, try something else. Mix things up. Intuit when it’s time to stop before you do too much and mess up your progress.

Be creative.

Creativity in problem solving

I’m lucky that Honey doesn’t counter surf. But she used to weave around my legs while I was cooking in hopes I’d drop a morsel.

Unfortunately, she was also there when I moved a hot pot to the drain in the sink. Or took a cake out of the oven.

I worried that her moochiness would get us both hurt.

Honey the Golden Retriever lies on her pillow.

You’ll always find me lying on my pillow in the kitchen. I’d hate to miss one of those flying treats that comes my way.

Honey was going to beg no matter what I did. So I looked for a creative way to channel her begging into a better behavior. I taught her to beg by lying quietly on her pillow on the other side of the room.

It took me a while to figure this out. But I told her to “go to her bed,” a behavior she already knew, and reinforced it by tossing her food scraps while I cooked.

Now Honey stays on her pillow while I cook.

Guests think she’s amazing. But I know it’s her own, less dangerous style of begging.

Creativity with puppies

When Honey came home with me, I got permission from my boss to bring her to work.

Honey the golden retriever puppy at work.

Sometimes Work Just Feels Like Jail

I set her crate beside my desk. Luckily, she was a very good puppy and would nap for up to three hours at a time before I had to take her for a break in the park outside my office.

When I had a client coming in or a meeting to attend, I’d take her out for an exercise break first. After all, a tired dog is a good dog, right?

But one time I could not get her to settle down. She was biting me (that was Honey’s signature annoying puppy behavior) and yelping.

I kept trying to tire her out with toys and balls but she was just hyper.

Those of you who have raised toddlers already know what it took me far too long to figure out: Honey didn’t need to be tired out more. She was already overtired.

Honey the golden retriever sits on the table.

How hyper can a puppy get at work? Ask me how I got up on this table.

I wasn’t creative enough to turn my thinking in a new direction. I put Honey into her crate in desperation. But she settled right down.

Lightbulb moment: puppies need lots of rest or they’ll be crazy. At least I finally got there.

Creativity saves you money

Sure, you can spend $20-$40 on food puzzles for your dog. Or you can seal up stinky treats in an empty frozen vegetable box, place it in another box, and so on until you have a many-layered puzzle for your dog to tear through.

You can buy expensive dog beds. Or you can stuff those faded sweatshirts to make soft resting places for your pups.

You can buy boots to keep ice balls from forming between your golden retriever’s toes in the winter. Or you can use a warm cloth to instantly melt them once you get home.

Honey the golden retriever sits in snow.

I love the snow. I just wish it didn’t follow me in the house still stuck to my paws.

Maybe it’s not as chic as spending the yearly income of a developing nation’s family on pet products. But if you don’t have to work so hard to pay your bills, maybe you’ll have more time to spend with your dog.

Creativity in communication

Dog people are never more creative than when we learn how to talk to our dogs.

Dogs are brilliant at understanding us.

They watch our body language, listen to our words, and pay attention to our tone.

We’re not nearly as good at understanding dogs. Unless we improve our creativity.

Turid Rugaas observed dogs all around her and compiled pictures and explanations of their body language in On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals (affiliate link). Rugaas  showed great creativity in observing how dogs “spoke” to each other so we humans could better understand them.

Every time we observe our dogs and try to figure out what they’re telling us, we’re growing our creativity, and building a stronger bond.

Honey the Golden Retriever smiles.

Do you understand what I’m telling you now?

You Are The Creative Class

Most dog people are not terribly creative.

They pull their dogs around on leashes around instead of growing a relationship that allows them to walk together. They don’t know why their dog does things and they don’t care too much.

Or they assume their dogs are “spiting” them when they damage household items instead of trying to figure out what’s really going on and how to fix it.

You are the creative class of dogdom.

Honey the Golden Retriever Takes an Apple for Teacher.

I should know. I’ve been writing Something Wagging for nearly five years. And reading your comments, following the blogs of S’Waggers who write them, and hanging out with you on Facebook has taught me how important creativity is for giving our dogs good lives.

Hanging out with you has made me more creative. And my dog Honey and every one of our foster pups has benefited from that creativity.

So keep being kind. Keeping being patient. And flexible.

But most of all, keep growing your creativity. Because you’re canine artists. And your dogs are the most interesting, amusing, and beautiful works of art you’ll ever help to create.

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Your Turn: Do you agree that creativity is important for working with dogs? Or would you argue that another trait is even more important?

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links will take you to Amazon. If you buy something after following the link I will earn a few cents. Thank you for supporting Something Wagging.

 

 

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Comments

  1. I like to think i’m pretty creative when it comes to dogs. Heck, I have to be, or my 3 huskies would be bored out of their minds!!!! BOL!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  2. Excellent post again. I think with really smart dogs, you have to be creative. Otherwise they get bored and don’t want to listen anymore.

  3. Love this post! It’s so true. Some people think you’re born being a ‘dog person’ or have good ‘dog intuition’, but every dog is a little bit different and finding creative ways to relate or train is the key sometimes. It’s also fun for your dog when you mix things up a little bit. I sometimes put Haley’s treats inside a paper towel tube and seal the ends, but Haley would love your box in a box idea!

  4. I still haven’t come up with a creative way to get Blueberry to leave the pet supply store with me. She loves going there, but she will plant herself in front of the cashier and stare up longingly at said cashier until treats are dispensed. And getting a few treats isn’t enough – she knows the store is full of them and she wants them ALL and is willing to stay there until she gets them. I typically have to reach into my pocket to lure her out, but that isn’t always good enough for her. Maybe I could try putting a new treat in my pocket she doesn’t typically get – something very smelly and then she’ll follow me outside to the car.

    I don’t consider myself all that creative when it comes to dog training either. I usually stumble upon a method that works more so than actually thinking it up.

    I LOVE your treat box idea and will definitely be trying that soon!

    • I would love to see Blueberry in the store refusing to leave. That sounds like Honey with the local crossing guard (the one who keeps treats in his pocket).

      I have to choose our route carefully right before school. :)

  5. I think you are right because creativity helps in just about every aspect of living with a dog.

  6. I hadn’t thought about it that way but creativity is important for any successful leader, teacher, parent or dog owner.

  7. I had never really thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense. I’m going to try to tap into what creativity I have a bit more!
    BTW, you were the one that inspired me to also teach Luke to go to his bed when I’m cooking. Kobi was always under my feet, and I let him be, even though I knew I was lucky neither of us ever got hurt! We’re still working with Luke, but he is getting there, and it makes my life so much easier.
    And thank you for your wonderful advice about Luke on my last training post….I really needed the encouragement and I felt much better after reading your comment. I’ve already started putting your advice to work!

    • Having a young and intelligent dog like Luke will certainly cause you to use all your creativity. Once he becomes perfectly comfortably with house gifts, you may have to take up painting or another creative hobby to keep your brain going at the same level. :)

      BTW, deciding not to train a beagle to stay away when you’re cooking is probably a sign of brilliance. I can’t imagine how hard that would be to teach.

      We release Honey from her “go to bed” requirement when we have foster dogs too. It just feels unfair to be more strict with her when there are puppies weaving all around my feet.

      Not that we don’t try to help Honey teach the foster puppies her trick. :)

  8. Creativity is a must! It not only helps the dogs, but helps me get out of my funk! And with six overintelligent minds and a pushy cat, it takes some ingenuity to keep this household running.

    One thing I also believe is let your dog be part of the creativity. They’ll show you what they are thinking and want to do if given the chance. :)

  9. Never would have thought about this – but you are so right!

  10. So absolutely true!

  11. I’ve always been creative and I’ve encouraged my bipeds to be creative – I refused to cooperate as a puppy if they weren’t entertaining!

    It always saddens me when I see people walking the dog with no interaction. It can be such a special time of the day, for dogs and bipeds.

  12. You are so right! When I first started reading this post, my answer was “patience” because I remember having needed lots of it when Callie was a puppy. And most of the time I needed patience to deal with NOT Callie, BUT with Sam and certain co-workers. Callie was a good puppy. And truthfully, the things she did “wrong” were our fault not hers. She stayed quietly in the kitchen at night until she was house trained. (Shadow was, in direct contrast, a canine Houdini.) Had I been a “bit” more creative in my training efforts, all three of my current dogs would have made far fewer “mistakes” in their early months with us.
    I finally got smart with Ducky and bought a red, double-bed-size, fleece blanket for $7.99 at Target and folded it up to fit inside her crate. She still sleeps on that blanket to this day, even though she no longer chews on it. And it’s a heckuva lot easier to clean than a 35-dollar, fancy, foam-filled dog bed!

    • You made a very creative choice with Ducky’s bedding. And those crazy expensive dog beds aren’t even very high quality.

      Honey has a bed I won in a contest that costs over $100 retail. But it has chintzy zippers you’d expect to see the back of a woman’s evening gown.

      As for being patient with others, I agree 100%. Honey’s only “bad” habit is over-excited greetings. But if people would do what I tell them and not encourage her behavior, she’d be much more polite.

  13. An amazing post and so so true!!