Friday, June 3, 2011


I love animals. I have four dogs, and I love them all. My oldest is 13 years old. She was a rescue, and we got her when she was one year old. We have been through so much together. For the past 12 years she has been by my side. She holds a special place in my heart.

Like I said, I love my animals. My biggest pet peeve is an ill trained dog. I don't really blame the dog- it's the owner's fault.

Recently I was eating a sandwich and I set it down on the computer desk. My brother grabbed it "so the dogs wouldn't jump up and get it". I laughed at him, "My dogs won't touch that". He didn't believe me. I told him I could put that sandwich on the floor and my dogs wouldn't touch it unless I told them too. He still didn't believe me. So I did. I took the sandwich and put it on the floor. The dogs instantly ran towards it, but I made the "Eh!" sound. Which is the sound I make when I don't want them to do whatever it is they are doing. "No!" I told them, and they all backed away from it. We left it on the floor and they never touched it. My brother was pretty impressed. I was pretty proud of my "kids".

I didn't get unusually lucky with my dogs. They aren't exceptionally smart or anything. I just realize that my dogs aren't human. I treat them like dogs, not people.

Dogs don't think like people do. They live for the here and now. There are times when they are puppies that they are very emotionally fragile. If something traumatic happens, it will stay with them forever. But, for the most part a dog is all about what is happening right now.

They are pack animals. It doesn't matter if you have one dog or ten- you have to be the pack leader. A dog who thinks you are weak will try to take over from you. Some things we see as "jealousy" or "love" are actually your dog being dominate over you.

I have a friend who's dog humps her all the time.  She thinks it's because he loves her. It's actually because he's trying to dominate her. That's also why dogs will sometimes hump each other when they are playing. It's not about sex, it's about domination. Who's in charge? Who's the alpha dog?

Does your dog push his body up against you or put his nose under your hand trying to get you to pet him? Cute isn't it? He loves attention, doesn't he? Actually, no. He's dominating you. He's telling you what to do. "Pet me, I'm the boss". You should push him off or away from you when he does this. It has nothing to do with affection and everything to do with domination. To a dog space is respect. If your dog insists on sitting on your lap all the time or touching you, they are being dominate. You shouldn't let your dog do this.

My dogs learn from early on that I am the alpha. They know that there is no choice but to come when I call them. If your dog isn't coming, then they don't see you as the alpha.

My youngest dog is almost a year old. Since the weather has been getting nicer we've been taking him out with us more. At first he was really afraid. He would jump up on me wanting me to pick him up. He wasn't used to stranger people and animals. I refused to pick him up. I wanted to- I wanted to hold him like a baby and tell him everything was going to be O.K.. But if I did that then he would see me as weak. When a dog is afraid he needs his pack leader to be strong. If I would have picked him up and babied him then he would have never stopped being afraid. Instead, I gently tugged his leash everything he tried to jump on me. Every time he tried to dig his heels in I'd just keep walking. He realized that he had no choice but to walk, nothing was going to hurt him, and I was still in charge. We recently took him to a very large dog event. A few weeks ago he would have been terrified, but this time he was awesome. He was still nervous, but because I was strong and didn't baby him he quickly relaxed. The same thing applies to dogs who are afraid of thunderstorms or vacuum cleaners. If you pick them up and baby them when they are afraid you are only showing them that they have something to be afraid of. If you act in a self assured away, they will realize that the alpha isn't afraid, so they shouldn't be either.

This doesn't mean that you can't love on your dog and show them affection. You just have to know the right time and place for affection.

Now let me tell you. My dogs are not perfect. They misbehave (like the time my littlest one jumped on the table and ran for my don's birthday cake!). They don't know any tricks. But, they are generally well behaved and know their place in our home.

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

I agree with you about dogs and how they behave. We have great, imperfect dogs. But like you we set boundaries and they are learning. Some better than others.