Talking dogs: Being thankful for canines, whatever their condition

December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, a time to reflect on all good things.

In the world of dog training, it can be a challenge to keep a positive perspective. We work with dogs that have poor temperaments, dogs that are neglected by their owners, dogs that are afraid of their owners and dogs that have been trained harshly. We see lots of behaviors and undesirable habits that could have been avoided with proper care and training, before becoming a problem.

It can be difficult to convince dog owners that routine correcting and punishing of their dog is not only an unnecessary training practice, but it also jeopardizes the human/animal bond.

But there are lots of good things to reflect on as well. For example, the Swedish Kennel Clubís new training policy regarding the relationship between humans and dogs has been modified and confirmed by its board of directors. Sweden and other Scandinavian countries lead the world in many aspects of humane animal care. Among other things, it states that "Ö the relationship with our dogs should be based upon confidence and trust between dog and owner. For SKK, it is clear that all dog training and activities with dogs shall be based upon positive methods." Hooray for Sweden!

Closer to home, it warms my heart to see the tireless efforts of so many aiding the homeless dogs in desperate need of care, attention and a permanent home of their own. Just recently I worked with a couple who had pulled a dog off the streets, nearly hairless due to a horrendous flea allergy. Although this dog and their own dog didnít get along well, these people have gotten the stray dog the medical care she needed, had her spayed, and are fostering her until a suitable home can be found.

Of course it would have been easier to just ignore the dog and keep on driving, but that dogís life will be forever changed for the better due to their spirit and generous heart. Thankfully, this story isnít an exception; many of our friends and neighbors are stepping up when the situation presents itself, and helping out when and where they can.

Although we work with people who are resistant to our program of positive, force-free training classes, we get to enjoy just as many people who jump in with both feet, eager to learn a new way to work with their dog, and reap the benefits as a result. As an instructor, itís heartwarming to watch the relationship evolve between dog and owner from being frustrated with one another, to one of mutual respect and admiration, while gaining the skills needed to turn the hooligan dog into a well behaved family companion.

Finally, I am so grateful for my own dogs. Although my longhaired dachshund, "Curtis," has become an outstanding and beautiful show dog, his most precious talent is snuggling with me in the evenings. My Belgian tervuren, "Tait," is getting older, but remains healthy and active. My rescue dogs round out our little family and are proof that all dogs, regardless of breed or background, can truly enhance our lives, and for that, I am thankful.




Associated Press