Evolution of Our Relationship with Our Dogs

Do you have neighbors who make their dog sleep outside in a dog house?  Have friends who take their dog for a ride in the car for vet visits only?  Know anyone who purchased a rhinestone collar for her dog?  No, no and yes?

Dog ownership has become dog parenting; the dogs in our lives are our “furkids”.  Our relationship with our four-legged canine companions has evolved in just a few short decades.  Are we better for it?

I think so, but this shift requires more than giving the dog more privileges.  It requires that we humans take greater responsibility in helping our “furkids” succeed as family members.  Dogs have the mental abilities of a 2-year-old.  They do not speak English and they don’t come equipped with human morals and values.  Yet, many dog parents expect their dog to exhibit better behavior than their own children.  It is our job - our responsibility as caregivers - to give them parameters, rules and reinforcement as well as praise and rewards to help them learn what we want from them.

You’ve seen other people’s dogs and either thought, “Oh my gosh, what a handful”, or “Oh my gosh, I wish my dog were that well behaved.”  Get your dog trained so she is a good citizen – no barking at strangers or jumping on people; sitting when you ask, coming when you call; no chewing the furniture, lunging at other dogs while on-leash or mouthing human hands.

Springtime is when shelters see an increase in the number of dogs relinquished for behavioral issues.  Unfortunately, with basic training and consistent reinforcement at home, these animals would have made lovely family members.   Where does your dog rate on a scale of 1-10 for good behavior… and how do you rate your dog parenting skills?

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