we start the new year, the inevitable lists begin to
show up. New Year’s resolution lists, want lists, to
do lists, dieting lists — the lists go on and on. I’ve
come up with a new list; one of memorable dog training
challenges of last year.
Dogs named Bo, Joe and Moe. No kidding, all in the same
house. One can only imagine the chaos and confusion of
having three dogs all answering to —or collectively
ignoring — a similar sounding name. After an hour of
"Bo, no!" and "Joe, no!" I told the
owner I could take "no Moe" and we discussed
necessary name changes for all.
The "My Dog is Dumb" syndrome. Many a client
will describe his dog as a few kibbles short of a bag,
wrongly assuming that the dog is incapable of learning.
The bored dog at the end of the leash looks to be
thinking the same of his owner. These are such fun cases
to work with, because once we can teach the client how
to relate to the dog in a canine way, learning becomes
easy, and success is achieved. So, bring on your
"dumb" dogs — a good trainer will prove to
you the brilliance of your canine friend.
The Wrong Dog and Owner Combination. Time and again we
see people matched with the wrong dog for their
situation or lifestyle. Dog and owner are caught in a
failure chain, as neither individual can meet the needs
of the other. The senior citizen with a crazy Border
collie, the 6-year-old with the Great Dane, the marathon
runner with a Basset hound, the knitting nester with a
German Shorthaired Pointer, the infirm individual with a
young puppy. Training will not supersede the essence of
the dog’s character or activity level. The solution
for this is simple — know what energy level you are
able to handle for the next 10 years, and then choose a
puppy or adult dog accordingly. Don’t expect to bend
the will and nature of the dog’s spirit — you won’t
The "Its My Child’s Dog" syndrome. Parents,
take note. No matter how much your child wants to be
involved with obtaining, training, and caring for a dog,
the ultimate responsibility is yours. Should your child
be involved? Absolutely, but at best it is a joint
project, and as your child continues to grow and develop
other interests, the family dog will continue to require
care, training, and companionship, and that’s on you.
So, if you do not have the time or interest to take on a
new furry family member, skip the puppy, and get your
child a goldfish. Note: Pet fish can be trained to do
The "She’s Not a Dog, She’s a Person"
disorder. Contrary to current pop culture trends, dogs
do not need or enjoy being dressed up in costumes,
spritzed with cologne, or used as an accessory for an
outfit. No matter the breed or size, dogs are canines,
and to ignore their needs as a species is to do them a
great disservice. Dogs will put up with all manner of
ridiculous things we humans thrust upon them, but
embracing and providing your dog with what her true
canine needs are is what takes your relationship with
her to the next level.
"My dog is a vegetarian, just like me"
delusion. One merely needs to open a dog’s mouth to
know that canines — wolves, jackals, foxes and our own
dogs — are carnivores, as proven by their long canine
teeth made for tearing and gulping meat. If dogs were
meant to eat plants, they would have a set of molars for
grinding, like a cow. No. Just no.
"My dog is sooo smart!" Yes, actually, he is.
All dogs are smart, and when given the opportunity to
learn with proper training, they will amaze you with