For as long as I can remember it was strange how some dog owners have well mannered dogs without problems and other owners always struggled with their dogs. My Mom, for example, never struggled with her dogs. I myself inherited my canine philosophy from her. It happens to be very similar to that of Cesar Millan. He just added words and concepts to my existing actions.
For the past few years I have been involved with the Clever Companion dog school in Riebeeckstad. My primary role is to evaluate the owners and dogs and then advise the owners on the best strategy for their situation. Of course, it is important to read the dogs’ energy correctly which can be hampered by the actions of the owners. Even harder is to get through the background noise the owners make to get to the real situation. Most problem dogs are the result of things the owners do, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Here are some of my observations regarding problem dogs / owners:
- Dog owners think of their dogs as children. They act as if the dog is a human. My mother’s most important rule was: A dog is not a human and must know its place. No negotiation. Humanization leads to a number of behavioral problems that only keep getting worse.
- People abdicate their leadership role to their dogs. Most dogs are not meant for this which causes stress and leads to behavioral problems.
- Dogs sleep on the owner’s bed. It evokes in the dog a feeling of elevated status and feels the owner is subordinate. Then people do not understand why the dog does not listen to them or acts dominant.
- People buy dogs because they are cute and do not even think about the dog having to fit in with their energy. This is probably the biggest reason why dogs are put away.
- Owners are under the false impression that their dogs will protect them therefore they buy some “angry” kind of dog breed. Unless you are the absolute leader of your pack, your dog will probably not protect you. He would rather act to save his own hide.
My best advice to prospective dog owners is to get (1) a dog with energy that matches the owner’s energy. (2) Ensure that the owner is the absolute leader of the herd. (3) To be aware at all times that a dog is an animal and needs structure. Rules, boundaries and limitations (Cesar Milan)
This does not imply you can not love your animals. Animals understand respect and trust, not love. So make sure you respect your dogs, in other words show your love by respecting them.