7 things I wish someone told me before I adopted a dog | MNN - Mother Nature Network
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No matter who your dog is, you're likely to have some things that you have to invest mental energy into working on every day, on top of the physical energy that goes into making sure the dog is exercised. Training happens every single day.
There's no finish line. Let's talk a little more about training. I wish I'd have been told that training is an every-day-for-life thing. When I adopted my first dog, I thought you just go to obedience class, teach your dogs some obedience, and then you have an obedient dog.
Dogs are not static beings. They have their own unique personalities and their brains are always churning, always coming up with new ways to get what they want whether that's to get to the park faster, or to sneak the roast chicken left unattended on the counter, or to cuddle on the no-dogs-allowed couch.
Dogs have impulses, temptations, fears, triggers, bouts of energetic silliness or thoughtlessness just like any other being.
To help a thinking being navigate the world requires active training, every day, for life. Sometimes a dog that is trained to sit before being allowed to go out the door will be too excited to remember this requirement and, if the dog gets away with it a couple times, he will start to test the limits of the rule.
Thus, training begins again. Sometimes a dog will develop a new fear of, say, trash cans, and new training has to begin for how to help the dog walk calmly past trash cans. Maybe your family is bringing home a second dog.
Dogs: face to face with my worst enemy
That means your first dog will need new training on how to deal with having a second dog around at meal times, on walks, during cuddle sessions, sharing toys or in myriad other ways. Life is always offering new challenges, and this fact along with your dog being a thinking being means that training is a non-stop, life-long process.
Are you ready for a little family drama? Unless you live alone, there are probably going to be some things that pop up that require family meetingsor maybe even family therapy.
best Quotes For Dog Lovers images on Pinterest | Dog cat, Pets and Puppys
Who is in charge of what aspects of caring for the dog — and who slacks in their role — may be an issue. Family members who let the dog get away with something another family member is trying to train the dog not to do may be an issue. Aspects of the dog's personality that one family member finds endearing while another family member loathes may be an issue. Perhaps a new person joins the family, which changes the dynamics and new problems need to be addressed.
A personal example comes from my very vocal dog. He likes to tell us everything he's thinking, when he thinks it. For me, the barking is kind of annoying but I know he's just telling me what's on his mind and I can mostly get him to stop.
To my wife, on the other hand, his barking is nails on a chalkboard. One or two barks makes her tense, but when he goes into one of his frenzies, she's ready to pack up and leave. We've had many discussions about how to handle one of his freak-outs, who takes the lead role in getting him to settle down when he goes into a flurry and, importantly, how to be supportive of the other person — me being understanding that his barks are extraordinarily grating for my wife and so taking no-bark training seriously, and my wife learning to take some deep breaths while letting me try to mellow him out, and not adding to the commotion by yelling at him to knock it off.
It was important to recognize that this was an actual stressor in our relationship with one another, and something we needed to address on a human level, let alone on a training level with the dog.
You and your significant other or family members may go into owning a dog all rosy-cheeked and starry-eyed, but there are real issues that are almost guaranteed to come up. And the hard part is they're almost impossible to predict until they become an issue.
It is important for the whole family to be on the same page. Not only does that mean deciding what rules and roles are going to be put in place before the dog comes home, but also being open to talking about problems as a family when they come up. Your traveling life is different once you get a pet. Say goodbye to spontaneous travel. Or late nights for that matter. Having a dog is a bit like having a kid in that unplanned weekend-getaways or random all-nighters aren't really in the cards.
Now that you have a dog, even a late-night dinner date — let alone the basic camping trip — takes more planning. Spontaneity is tough when you have an animal percent dependent on you. For one thing, dogs need to potty. You can't leave straight from work to happy hour, then dinner, then night caps or dancing until 2 a. If you do, you may find a little unpleasant present or two waiting for you on the rug. Not to mention a lonely dog that has been cooped up all night, uncomfortable and confused.
Another issue is travel. If you're planning a weekend getaway, it means either finding a pet-sitter you trust, or a hotel that takes dogs. Even for camping, you'll need to check that the campground allows dogs and what the rules are. How are you getting Fido safely from point A to point B?
I thought my puppy would unite the world. I was so, so wrong
You're either going to travel less, invest part of your travel budget in boarding or pet sitting, or become an expert in pet-friendly accommodations on the road.
And you're definitely going to think about your dog's needs before you say yes to spontaneous weeknight or weekend plans.
Your new dog is not going to be like your old dog. My first dog was basically a piece of cake. He was the kind of dog you want to get when you're learning how to be a dog owner, because he just rolled with everything. He was a happy Labrador retriever mix who was basically bomb-proof.
His biggest faults were hating the mailman with a passion and eating garden hoses. He got along with other dogs, liked people, liked to play but had an easy-going energy level. Sometimes he'd escape from the backyard, but we'd find him waiting for us on the front porch when we got home. I thought that's what all my dogs would be like. If I put in a little bit of work and love, I'd get an even-keeled dog.
I was dead wrong. The thing is, what kind of dog you have isn't entirely dependent on you. What kind of dog you have is mostly dependent on the dog. My second dog is not and will never be even-keeled, no matter how much work and love I might put into him.
He is who he is, and my life with him has been degrees different than my life with my Labrador mutt. It's utterly amazing, don't get me wrong. But it's utterly different.
Even if you adopt the same breed of dog — even if you buy your second dog from the very same breeder as your first — you're going to have a wildly different experience. No two dogs are alike, ever. For example, the doodle wars look like a skirmish beside the internet-wide fight over dog training methods.
In extreme cases, it looks like a disagreement over what a dog is. For the most ardent positive reinforcement trainers, animals are a bundle of malleable behaviours. Insights from management theory, human psychology and marketing are deployed in sculpting exemplary canine citizens. For their adversaries in the dominance school, dogs are wild beasts who live among us.
Training is a battle of wills where the owner who does not assert themselves — physically where necessary — will be ruled by their pooch. Scientific evidence is marshalled and dismissed, Facebook battles waged, YouTube parody videos are made, and blogwars rage endlessly.
Ostensibly these doggie wars are about canine welfare. But really, they are about contending models of human virtue. The dog we own, and the way we treat it, are understood as components of our version of the good life. Just like the church we attend, the way in which we commute to work, and our attitude to anthropogenic global warming, our attitude to our animal companions is frequently a matter of passionate commitment, which always entails passionate disagreement.
In complex societies like ours, there are many versions of the good. Ethical views — even whole moral systems — multiply and frequently collide a process that the internet may be accelerating.
As this process continues, our opportunities to disagree also grow. Indeed, our disagreements might be part and parcel of our multiplicity.