If I told you that I’d just bought a Ferrari and I was taking it out for a test drive this weekend where would you expect me to take it? Open road somewhere with some nice sweeping corners?
What about if I told you I was taking it 4WDing … What would your response be?
Trying to go off road in a vehicle not designed to do so is quite silly! Why on earth would someone buy such a perfectly designed piece of machinery and try and do something with it that it has never been designed to do?
Why not buy a vehicle that is fit for purpose and can do the job I want it to do? Why not just buy a 4WD in the first place?
Yes, I can spend thousands of dollars trying to modify my Ferrari in an attempt to turn it into a 4WD, however, it will never perform as well a vehicle specifically designed to BE a 4WD.
The same applies to our furry companions … our dogs. Each dog has been specifically designed to DO a certain task; herding, guarding, retrieving, companionship … and they are, or were once upon a time very good at these.
A common problem I come across as a professional trainer is addressing owners expectations and explaining that their dog simply is not ‘wired’ to be capable of doing some things that the owners would like them to do …
- Some dogs are not bred to be overly social towards other dogs. Taking these dogs to dog parks at peak times will only encourage undesirable behaviours and stress.
- Some dogs are bred to need lots of companionship. Expecting these dogs to spend most of their time outside and away from the family and sleep outside can nurture separation-related behaviours.
- Some dogs are bred to work long hours expending both mental and physical energy. To expect these dogs to be content with simple daily exercise and basic training is a direct route to boredom related behaviours, or worse.
- Some dogs are bred to be wary. Taking these dogs to cafes and other busy locations and expecting them to tolerate attention and/or affection from strangers is a recipe for disaster.
The list goes on …
Of course, irrelevant of breed some dogs can be taught to cope with environments and tasks that they were not bred specifically for, however others cannot … and just like my Ferrari, they get bogged!
So what is the difference? Why can some dogs cope with all other dogs? Why can some dogs walk nicely along a street without pulling, lunging or barking? Why can some dogs enjoy affection from every stranger they meet? Why can some dogs sleep outside and others not???
Because every dog is an individual, and just like us they have their own individual personality; likes, dislikes and capabilities … and that’s okay!
Helping owners understand their own individual dog, work within their dogs’ capabilities whilst watching the bond between dog and owner grow through mutual understanding is an absolute highlight of my job.
Work with the dog you have, not towards the dog you wish you had.