Here’s a pic of our two beloved pooches.
The big ole blacky is Dyogi and his little blonde buddy is, of course, the infamous Juno! Dyogi will be 15 in May and he doesn’t get around as well as he used to, so he likes to spend most of his time hanging out, watching Juno run around like a beheaded chicken (sorry about the nasty visual – it’s early and my simile’s need a bit of work until my brain warms up).
As I’ve mentioned before, when we first rescued Juno, he was a bit of a brat – pulling our shoes off the rack and outside, digging holes, whining constantly, etc. The constant whining at the beginning was nearly driving both Greg and I crazy, but we understood that the little guy’d been thrown for quite a loop, so we tried to be as patient as possible. Dyogi, however, is a dog who doesn’t project human characteristics onto his fellow dogs and, apparently, he was DONE with the whining. At the end of our first week with Juno, we were all hanging out in the living room and Juno was pacing and whining, yet again, when Dyogi got up off his bed, took three quick steps to where Juno was standing, and calmly grabbed him by the throat, wrestled him to the ground and pinned him there until the whining stopped. That was the last time we heard Juno whine and we didn’t have to do a thing. Isn’t dog etiquette awesome!
Dyogi also repeated this behavior at times when Juno was too rambunctious and was bouncing around too much for Dyogi’s liking or when Juno was getting in his face and trying to play when Dyogi wasn’t in the mood. Without even realizing it, we had this built in training system to complement our own efforts to train Juno. I’ve been around dogs my entire life and it was the first time I’d actually seen the pack instinct kick in. It was amazing and wonderful and I felt so grateful that I’d taken the time and put so much effort into training Dyogi and teaching him the manners that he was now passing on to the young pup! I gave myself quite a few pats on the back during those first few weeks.
Of course, it wasn’t all Dyogi’s doing that Juno has become such an excellent addition to our family-I also put a lot of work into training Juno. Up to two hours of exercise every day, constant obedience training for the first year and lots of training in proper manners – no snatching treats out of the hand, no stealing treats from other dogs, no rushing the food bowl, no jumping up on people (admittedly, he still does this sometimes when people come into the yard and greet him in high pitched voices instead of ignoring him for a few mintues – we’re working on him still!), etc. We get compliments all the time about how well-behaved our dogs are and it really makes me feel good.
Now, I am not an angry-type person, but there is one thing in this world that gets my back waaaaaay up. What doesn’t make me feel good is people who think their dogs are being “cute” when they are really displaying problem behaviors. And yes, I am very opinionated and outspoken on this subject. I also feel that I have every right to be because I take the time and make the effort to ensure that my dogs are as well behaved as I can possibly make them. I have asked experts for advice on how to correct unwanted behaviors. I’ve taken our dogs to obedience classes. I’ve read books about dog behavior. I often watch animal shows to see behavior correction in action and I do just about everything I possibly can to ensure my dogs are healthy, happy and well-balanced. In short, I am a very responsible dog owner and if I want to beak off about the irresponsible doggy owners that I see EVERY DAY, then I will and I won’t experience one moment of regret about it. Here are just a few of the behaviors I see regularly, off the top of my head:
- Dog jumps on people all the time and owner says, “Oh, he’s just so excited to see you.”. REAL REASON: Dog is displaying dominance behavior and is trying to tell you that he’s in charge. NOT COOL (yes, like I said, we are working on this one still with Juno, but we ARE working on it because we recognize that it’s wrong and he hardly ever does it anymore. In fact, we have been training him to sit at the top of the stairs while people are coming through the door, so he HAS to sit and wait patiently for people to greet him).
- Dog chews up everything in sight and owner says, “Oh, he’s just punishing us because we left him alone all day.” REAL REASON: Dog has waaaaaaayyyy too much energy and is chewing things to relieve that energy. REMEDY: Exercise your dog before you leave him alone and the chewing will stop because the dog will be too tired to want to do anything except sleep. It’s not rocket science people, it’s just common sense.
- Dog snatches treats out of a person’s hand or from other dogs or the dog jumps up on a person while he or she is trying to prepare his kibble and owner doesn’t do anything about it or says something lame along the lines of, “Rufus, no. Bad dog”. REASON: You are not showing your dog that you are the alpha and nobody is correcting this rude behavior so he will keep on doing it until you step up and make it stop. HOW: Make your dog sit or lie down when you bring out any kind of treats or kibble and don’t give him anything until he stays lying down and relaxes. It takes practice, but if you keep at it for a day or two, the dog will understand that he has to be calm and relaxed before he gets anything. If the dog doesn’t sit or lie calmly, he doesn’t get the treat or the kibble – simple as that and he will learn VERY quickly that a calm dog is a well-fed dog. If you don’t believe me, watch a show about wolves and observe how the entire pack waits calmly for the alpha to eat before the others are allowed to. It’s a natural instinct for dogs to wait for their pack leaders to give them the go ahead for any behavior.
- Dog pulls owner along on the leash and owner says, “Oh, he just really loves his walks.” WRONG. REAL REASON: Again, you haven’t established any kind of leadership with your dog and it is confused about who’s in charge. Animals, especially canines, have an instinct that there should always be a leader and a pack of followers. If you don’t show your dog that you are the leader, he will naturally try to assume the role. In our world, ALL humans should be pack leaders to our pets. Period. I know, I’m so opinionated and bossy eh! HOW: That depends on you. If you are a fan of Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) then watch any of his shows, read his book (Be the Pack Leader) or visit his website (www.cesarmillaninc.com) and you’ll see the best way (in my opinion) of walking any dog. Basically, he walks dogs as if he is displaying them in a dog show, with a rope up high on the dog’s neck and just under the chin. If, however, you think that his methods are cruel like many bleeding hearts out there, then take your dog to a clicker-training type obedience class and spend weeks learning how to walk it. I’d estimate that Cesar’s method would work on most dogs in one walk, clicker training takes much longer. I trained Juno with Cesar’s method and it, literally, took one walk around the block to train him. I’ve also helped quite a few other people to learn how to walk their dogs this way and they swear by it. NOTE: Some dogs have a very, very, very strong desire to pull and Cesar’s method doesn’t even phase them. In those cases, I would consult a professional dog behaviorist who can teach you how to safely use a prong collar (which, if used properly, is not a cruel device, but a helpful teaching tool).
- Owner takes dog to an off leash park and just lets the dog run wherever it wants, charging other dogs and knocking them over or causing fights, etc. and the owner does nothing or yells at other owners for their dogs unacceptable behaviors. Do I really need to explain why this is so ridiculous and wrong? Let me spell it out for the obtuse ones out there. YOU DON’T HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR DOG. IF YOU CAN’T CONTROL YOUR DOG, DON’T TAKE HIM OFF THE LEASH UNTIL YOU HAVE LEARNED TO CONTROL HIM AND DON’T TAKE YOUR OUT OF CONTROL DOG TO AN OFF LEASH PARK WHERE HE IS JUST GOING TO CAUSE PROBLEMS WITH HIS EXCITED, DOMINANT, RUDE BEHAVIOR.
Am I getting my point across yet???? There are so many dogs out there who exhibit these behaviors all the time and their owners constantly make excuses for it. This is the largest pet peeve (no pun intended) in my life. It absolutely drives me crazy when dog owners blame their dog’s undesirable behaviors on the dog itself. Can I just say that 99.9% of the time, it is the owner, not the dog, that is responsible for the behaviors. I don’t understand how people cannot see and understand this concept. The other .1% of dogs have something messed up in their genetic make up and can’t help that they’re unstable and neurotic (just as many people can’t help it either). I try not to rant about this sort of thing, but I could probably make a full time career out of it if I didn’t have anything better to do because that’s how much it bothers me. So many people give their dogs love and affection and just forget about all the rest of it. Dogs are like children – they need exercise, discipline, boundaries and yes, love and affection. I don’t know a lot of people who allow their children to snatch toys or food from the hands of others or charge other kids on the playground and knock them over without teaching their children that those behaviors are not appropriate. Why should dogs be any different?
Okay, I think I’ve ranted and raved about this for the next, oh, lifetime and I’m now going to take a deep breath and just let it go…innnnnnn and oooouuuuut. There. I feel so much better and, just because I love our dogs so much, here’s a few more pics.