This is one of my favourite subjects: The perfect dog ... Is there such a thing? Should there be such thing?
My way of looking at it is simple. I am not perfect, my children and grandchildren, and my 5 Border Collies are not perfect. Thank goodness I have to say !
Why do so many look for perfection in everything they do and expect the same from others. Why is it so important to have a perfect dog, a dog who does not think for himself, and obeys every command without question.
We make choices every day without thinking about it , and so it should be. We chose our partners for their unique thinking, for their great sense of humour, for their quirks etc. that is what attracts us to them.
Allowing our dogs to develope their own character is to me the only way to reach a sustainable, intimate, lasting unconditional relationship.
Rules and boundaries are important and of great value, and must be a staple at all times. A happy and contented dog who has been allowed to display his uniqueness , will be happy to follow those rules.
All my dogs have their own weird and wonderful behaviours and no matter how often I try to correct them I will be on the losing end. I could force the issue and end up with a Stepford Dog, but the matter of fact is , I like their spank. (most of the time anyway).
Rocky for instance, insists on sitting on my feet when I am in the middle of putting my shoes on. Yes it is a nuisance, but all I need to do is put my foot on a stool. Yes I could scare the living day lights out of him, and he would nevr do it again, but to what end..
Also the command 'to heel' can become a huge problem if we expect our dogs to be right beside us. Not every dog is comfortable walking in that position., they might walk in front, they might walk a bit behind, or even a couple of feet away at the side, but that is where they are comfortable. Why try pushing them a few inches here and a few inches there , stressing them at the same time.
For Jessie, my 4 year old collie, to heel means walking as close as possible behind me, and standing every 4 or 5 steps on my heel . She is trying so hard to do what I ask of her, and she is trying to adjust, but she always ends up at the same place, so how can I punish her.
As I keep saying, every dog is different and learns in a different way, forcing the issue and looking for perfection does not make for a happy dog.
It is a bit like forcing a left handed child to write with their right hand and expect it to be happy about it and excel at the task. So just enjoy your dogs quirks and develope a sense of humour, after all your dog has to accept you the way you are without question, as long your dog is balanced, well mannered and happy and you have a good relationship that is all that matters.
Seeing dogs running around with each other, interacting in play, being happy, being social, well balanced and well mannered looks and feels wonderful.
It is no doubt every dog owner's dream to have a companion like that, but sadly this is not always possible.
In many cases this might not be possible because some dogs are just not into interaction and play, and no amount of socialisation will ever change this. Like humans they can be happy to be alone in their world.
Of course there can also be underlying mental and physical issues, but that is a very different ball game altogether, and not something I can even attempt to address in a short post.
I do dog and people watching when out on my travels, it is just something I do, I watch their interactions, or in fact the lack of it, and at times watch in dismay how some dog owners let their companions meet other dogs.
How would it be if strangers meet one another for the first time, and one comes running towards the other with open arms, waving them about, and proceed to wrap them intimately around the other, and to top it all up give them slobbery kisses all over their faces and let their hands wander all over them . ??
Hmm .. let me guess, I am sure the one on the receiving end would not be impressed and would more than likely slap this strange lunatic!
Well , I most definitely would.
We all know the rules of meeting other people because they have been taught to us by our parents, guardians, teachers and it is part of our culture.
The same goes for dogs, there are certain rules and manners which should really be followed, it is something dog guardians have to teach and encourage. So it is not all about sit, stay, lie down ect., but first and foremost it is about good manners.
Behaviour is instinctual as well as innate, but a huge amount of behaviour display has to do with nurture.
So I feel that I want to encourage dog owners to take the lead when meeting other strange or unfamiliar dogs; the introduction should be slow, making sure to watch both dogs body language at all times.
Ask the other dog walker if it would be ok to meet, keep the dogs on the lead, stay 2 to 3 meters apart and let the dogs settle while having a chat with the other person for a few minutes. Never let the dogs pull towards each other, and do not let them take the lead. It is the guardians job to keep their companion safe by giving him the opportunity to make his own mind up if he wants to make friends.
By then the dogs are able to use their sensitive noses to be able to make a picture of each other.
Then there should be the usual behaviour, namely standing side on, sniffing eachothers backends, and then .. and only then, when the dogs are sure of each other, would they consider sniffing each others faces.
This is what is called ` Canine Etiquette` If all is well then they will engage in play.