What is an ideal dog owner? – While one may say that the ideal dog owner is one that is this and one that is that, the ideal dog owner to us, is someone who is willing to learn, listen, try and willing to provide a stable lifestyle to the dog. In reality, none of us are ideal dog owners, we can only keep improving our knowledge and keep trying our best to create a ‘perfect’ lifestyle for the dogs. Dogs are a very primal species. Although domesticated, they remain true to who they are, they scavenge for food, they seek leadership and they try to push boundaries.
The basic needs of dogs remain simple – they need food, shelter and leadership. While these are simple, these are also where humans make the biggest mistakes.
Dogs need food, and they need species appropriate food, they need variety just like we do and they need just the right amount. Frequently, dog owners give in to dogs who are trying their luck by the dining tables. Owners give dogs birthday cakes, treats after treats made of ingredients that you and I can’t even pronounce, food that you and I know it’s not needed and will not provide any nutritional needs to the dog. Dog owners tend to feed too many, too much and too frequently, we too were once one of the guilty ones. Possible result of these? – An itchy and obese dog. And we wonder how they got there.
Dogs need shelter, they need a place to relax, rest and feel safe. We general do pretty well in providing this need. We as dog owners buy beds, cushions, mattress, blankets to enhance the comfort level of their sleeping areas. Although deep down inside our hearts, we know that all they need is a dedicated area where they know they can feel safe and relax, we like to give them the whole world, the whole house, the whole bed. Yup, we’ve been there as well. Possible result of these? – An owner waking up several times throughout the night to answer to the dog’s need of moving left, right, up and down the bed.
Dogs need leadership, they need a structured lifestyle, boundaries and a leader. Today’s dog training world has many people believe that a human and a dog should be equal. We should allow the dogs to express their thoughts, frustrations and whatever you call it. It is believe that we should never use force or punishment on a dog because it will cause trauma and possibly cause the dog to shut-down. Any behaviour that you dislike, you should use a treat to distract and redirect the dog and later praise the dog if he is doing a desired behaviour. If you are lucky, and you have an easy dog, you are sure to be fine with these and your dog will shine like a super star. If you are not so lucky, and you have dogs who are reactive to people, to bikes, to dogs, you will be stuck sooner or later. Two years down the road, you will probably still be carrying your dog who is barking at another dog who simply can’t be bothered with your dog. Dogs like to push boundaries and we all know that they are incredibly smart. If you do not stop a behaviour, it means you agree to the behaviour. If you redirect a behaviour before stopping it, it means there is a chance that he will return to that behaviour. Taking a chance with a dog, you are bound to lose. We’ve lost several times giving our dogs the so-called freedom of expressions, chances, redirection treats and plenty of rewards. If your dog’s behaviour is not causing a nuisance to you, it doesn’t mean that it is not causing any inconvenience to someone else.
We are all guilty of some things that we are doing to our dogs just for our own pleasures. Going down several different routes while trying to figure out what is right, what is wrong and simply, what works the best, we are all imperfect. The important thing to do is always try to find a balance in raising a dog by giving them a balanced lifestyle and one that makes us happy. While it is never easy, but one can only keep trying to gain knowledge, trust and respect from their dog. One way to keep yourself in check, and the way that we frequently use, is to always remember that: They are dogs. Not human, not kids, just DOGS.