7 Things Dogs Want You to Know
If dogs could speak, this is what they would tell their pet owners. As a professional dog trainer with more than two decades of experience, I often explain these concepts to pet owners every day during consultations. Before you continue reading, throw away your perceived notions of how dogs should think and behave and remember they are dogs. These are 7 things dogs want you to know. 🙂
1. I’m an Individual
Regardless of breed, every dog is an individual. While dog breeds can determine some characteristics, it’s not always a given. Many times, pet owners will have shared their homes with a specific breed for years that they become shocked when their new chosen breed behaves differently than their previous dogs.
During dog training consults, I hear, “He’s not like my last _____ (fill in the blank with a breed). He’s totally different.” That’s because each dog is an individual, and require different needs to be met. Never assume every German Shepherd Dog will be the same. Some may be friendly, others nervous and a few completely lazy. Similar to humans, dogs have their own personalities.
2. I Don’t Want to Meet Every Dog
Please hear this request, and honor it because it’s true. Not every dog wants to meet other dogs or people. Your dog would rather walk away and ignore the other dog than walk over and meet her. Do you greet everyone at the grocery store? I think not, and it should be the same for your dog.
Never drag your dog over and force her to meet other dogs. This is a recipe for disaster. Eventually, your dog will learn to act aggressively to stop you from forcing her to meet other dogs—and that’s a tough dog behavior to change.
3. I Like Choices
Choices are just as rewarding as food treats for dogs, and this applies to people too. Using positive reinforcement dog training to reward your dog for good choices is powerful and an extremely successful dog training technique.
Dogs hate force, yelling and physical corrections because they’re scary and confusing. I mean, do you like them? Your dog feels the same way too. How do you provide your dog more choices? Reward good behavior and redirect unwanted behavior.
4. I Can Bite
Every dog can bite—even small dogs. While small dogs may leave a smaller bite, it’s still dangerous behavior. All breeds of dogs, even mixed breeds, are capable of biting when they’re pushed too far. If someone is pushing, pulling, teasing or hitting you, then you have the right to defend yourself, right?
Dogs are not toys. They have teeth, and will defend themselves when pushed. Never allow anyone, including children, to pester dogs until they’re forced to defend themselves because it won’t end well.
5. I’m Not Spiteful
Studies have proven that dogs don’t feel spite. They’re not trying to punish you for leaving them home alone by chewing on your favorite shoes. Dogs chew your shoes because they were available to chew, and made of super soft leather, which is fun to chew. Dogs potty on rugs because they need to potty, or haven’t been taught to potty outside. Throw spite and vengeance away.
6. I Don’t Come With a Manual
Puppies and dogs are not pre-programmed with polite manners, and they certainly don’t come with a manual. If you want a well-behaved puppy, you should enroll her into a puppy group class and basic manners group class. Just like children, pet owners must teach puppies and dogs polite manners. There’s a saying in the dog training industry: Don’t complain, train. 🙂
7. When I’m Scared, Back Me Up
Everyone gets scared, including dogs. While dogs may look a bit different when they’re scared, always back up your dog’s choice. If your dog is fearful of a situation, leave the area immediately. When a person or dog is bullying your dog, speak up and say something. Dogs know and appreciate when their pet owners listen to their needs instead of fitting into social situations. When in doubt, leave. Your dog will love you for it!