If I had a bone for every time a dog misbehaved, mom would never have to buy me treats again! Mom says, “there are no bad dogs – just bad humans,” and believes all dogs want to behave but need humans to train them properly. I would have to agree and feel bad for the dogs whose humans haven’t done right by them. They bark and snap, and their humans just yank on their leash, mad at their behavior. Bad dogs are a product of bad (lazy) humans. Period.
My folks picked me up at nine weeks old from my Grandma Beth in Denver. Mom had been visiting me each week, so I knew I had a family. Still, I had never been in a car before. It was a house that moved. As soon as dad drove away from everything I ever knew, I howled something fierce! I was excited to have a new family but was also scared. Mom said I sounded like a tortured alien who ate a goat. Whatever! I settled down soon enough.
My new home had baby gates that Dad installed so that I would learn how to live in a new place. That’s the first step to adjusting a dog to your family: small space to start and as they prove worthy, expand their range. Expecting a puppy to act like a mature dog is silly. We don’t know what we don’t know! We need humans to teach us. I quickly showed my humans that I would respect their stuff. They told me over and over again what I was allowed to touch, and what I needed to “leave it.”
As Brandon McMillian says from the show Lucky Dog, it is the responsibility of humans to teach their dogs the seven common commands: sit, stay, heel, off, down, come, and no. By nine weeks, I knew most of them already. However, I needed reinforcement! So, mom and dad enrolled me in Puppy School through PetSmart. They have real dog trainers and teach us manners. We recommend them! They are affordable and have a variety of classes to choose from. This is for both humans and dogs so you must make a commitment. I learned to listen not only to verbal commands but also hand movements. What happens if your dog goes death? You’ll want them to understand hand gestures.
The seven commands ensure communication between humans and dogs, but they also keep dogs safe! We need to know that “no” can be danger with the tone of your voice and that “off” could harm us. When dogs are out of control, humans are not showing love but being lazy. Should something happen to their dog (like darting out the door into traffic), it is on them. We rely on our humans to teach us. Please take the time! Our lives depend upon it.
We need to be socialized as well. The recommendation is 100 people in 100 days. Well, my mom introduced me to 100 people the first month! I met all sorts of people, big and small, young and old. It was fun! I learned to tolerate having my tail pulled by toddlers and not to be afraid of wheel chairs. This was all for my benefit so that I could get along in the world.
Our health and well being are associated with proper training. When we know you are the Alpha, we don’t have to stress. We know who is in charge. We are free to be a dog, and that means playing. We need stimulation like toys and bones to chew on. Without activities, we can misbehave simply because we are bored. Letting us just hang out in our yard is okay, but it isn’t as fun as playing fetch with you. We crave interaction! Our humans are our entire world, so please make time for us.
Dogs need exercise to stay healthy, just like humans. We both win when we get out for walks. There are times where we need to heel and be by your side, but you will need to let us be dogs, too. We need to sniff and explore. It’s how we process life. I know it is winter in lots of places, but snow can be a blast! Get out and enjoy your winter wonderland with your pup. We are usually game for just about anything with our humans!
Every dog is unique and has a different personality. Take the time to get to know your dog intimately. They are, after all, a part of your family. Thinking of getting a dog for Christmas? Make sure you are ready to commit long term, not just for the holidays. If you do, we can enrich your lives and a bring much joy. Woof!
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith, is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, executive recruiter, business consultant, coach, fitness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
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Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!