The biggest challenge we have as dog owners is thinking our dogs have the same feelings and emotions as we do. I am not saying dogs don’t have emotions, what I am saying is that we think they should feel what we feel about certain environments, foods, people, routines, temperatures, and even rules.
What we forget is that dogs do have the ability to analyze, think through a process, and have their own emotions. We also tend to forget that they see it all through their nose, ears, and eyes. We have domesticated dogs to the point they can analyze and anticipate based on our behaviors and actions. They have the ability to have and create purpose in our families. Although at the end of the day, they are a dog, an animal, and the most important thing for them is…survival.
That means sleep, eat, play, dogs live in a black and white world where they thrive with structure, expectations, routines and purpose. For example, your dog doesn’t know that crate training is scary and stressful to you, they know that the box in the house causes stress which brings with it a pheromone that you produce, so therefore this crate must be a bad thing. Dogs are not born knowing where they should go to the bathroom. So why do we put pee pads down and then get upset when they go to the bathroom in the house? Dogs don’t know that we, as people, don’t take 3-4 naps in the day like their litter mates do so they keep on keeping on until they just get grumpy and then get in trouble for biting. Do you see a pattern?
Dogs need balance and they need sleep time and, yes, they have the ability to go 4 hours in that scary box to get good sleep. Dog’s have the ability to go outside and use the bathroom, if you keep them on a leash and help them be successful. Dogs don’t think about the walk yesterday nor are the hoping for one today. They will follow the pack (family) and watch for routines and then get excited at 3:45 when we go for a walk every day because the smells change and that means a walk.
As we all know, dogs are not dumb at all so why do we do everything for them and then wonder why they disconnect? The answer is, we take their purpose away. Teach your dog what the rules are, like…we sit at the door, or…we walk nice on a leash, and…we don’t jump. A few more examples, we don’t get on furniture, we don’t pee or poop in the house, and we don’t bolt out the door.
So then how do we teach the rules? We do this by teaching them what they can and should do in each of these environments. Teach to the picture in your dog’s mind. Dogs do better knowing what they can and should be doing better than what they should not do. Guide and direct, do it with purpose, do it with structure, do it to create routines, and create the rules…your rules! And how do we set them up for success??? Have expectations!!