Friday, June 7, 2013

If You Read Only One Thing Today, Read This: It's Not How They're Raised

I was in the middle of sharing this post from DINOS on our Facebook page (thanks to Mary for her share!), when I realized that I had more to say about it than was really FB warranted. So here we are.

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When people ask me for training advice--especially for "problem" behaviors--I always make it very clear that MANAGEMENT is at least half the battle. And it's important to understand that so much of what humans deem "problems" are just natural instincts for dogs. Dogs are not humans; we have to teach them how to live in our world, but we have to do it with the right mindset. And this is true whether you have a puppy, a 5-year-old, or a senior.

So much contributes to a dog's behavior day in and day out--you cannot always just blame yourself for screwing everything up, being a bad dog parent, or even being a bad dog trainer (guilty, as charged!). You can do it all by the book and still not come out with a well-adjusted, CGC dog. There are things that will always be out of your control; dogs are individuals. You can also blame with all your heart the people who had your dog before you did and caused all the so-called damage, but that doesn't mean that you're off the hook.

This passage from the DINOS article says so much, and, sadly, it's something I've encountered with friends and family:
When people believe that “It’s All How They’re Raised”, there are some real-life consequences for the dogs. So we need to check ourselves.
Here are a few ways our words hurt:
People refuse to adopt adult dogs. This idea, that how they’re raised determines who a dog is, makes adopting out adult and senior dogs a real challenge. Why would adopters take a chance on an adult dog, who has been raised by someone else, when they could adopt a puppy and raise it “right” themselves? Some folks really believe this. Seriously, shelter workers are constantly confronted by this way of thinking. It stinks.

Meanwhile, those people did get puppies and by no means have perfect dogs. And it's OK to be OK with a dog who is not perfect, as long as you know how to properly MANAGE any behaviors that could present an issue, whether that issue is simply a nuisance to others or straight-up dangerous.

We are fully aware that Desmond is a DINOS, and we do everything we can to manage that. Right now, we're in a situation where we can't leave Desmond alone. People don't understand that. What's worse, though? People not understanding why we also can't just bring him with us everywhere, why that might not be the best thing for him, or even why that might be just really annoying for us to deal with. (If you have a young child, do you want to bring him with you to parties??)

Know your limits. Know your dog's limits. Accept them both. Then work within them and love one another. That's the best you can do for your dog.

It’s Not How They’re Raised, It’s How Dogs are Managed That Matters Most

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