Asking for too much?

As part of my ongoing education, I attend monthly webinars that touch upon different topics surrounding behavior and training. This month’s topic related to the questions of: Are we asking too much of our pets? And, if so, what specific environments or concepts can put a pet’s well-being at stake?

Funny that this particular topic was being presented as I have on my own focused in my private practice and with my own dogs in making sure that our dogs are not paying the price for our endless ideas of what they “should” do or be.

I think most people mean well, but are just uniformed about the true nature of DOGS. For example, why is it that people decide to adopt or purchase a dog?

Is it because they hope that their new pet will fulfill a particular need? What happens when we think of our furry pets as children? Or a replacement for human children?

These are important questions to ask ourselves. To clarify, there is nothing wrong in my view to welcome a pet into our family based on some of our needs – this is true of any relationship. The important thing though is to take stock as to the impact our needs might have on our dogs on a day-to-day basis!

Case in point: I get an email from a potential client explaining to me that his dog… “needs to learn to sit and stay”, “needs to come when I call him.” I had to smile when I read this because even though I knew exactly what he meant: the owner has the need of having his dog sit/stay and come when called and these are really not his dog’s needs or wants we have grown used to thinking of our pets as an extension of our wishes.

Another example is the expectation that our dogs MUST like everyone! And even be polite and with good manners with every single person we choose to engage with.

Dogs must be comfortable with having anyone reaching out to pet them… as if dogs don’t have a need for personal space!

Dogs should play nicely with all dogs we choose to introduce them to. And they should never (start) a fight. Good dogs don’t fight.

They should have a strong and consistent work ethic, day in and day out, regardless of the environment, how they feel, how tired they might be, etc.

We have grown accustom to having dogs be there for us no matter what! But the question still remains: Are we asking too much of our dogs?