Saturday, 10 March 2012

Dogs Will Be Dogs

Have you ever noticed that people no longer want their dogs to behave like dogs?

People are more than happy to share their lives with their canine companions but the minute the dogs want need to do something remotely doggy then the humans become annoyed and upset. They find it unacceptable that this ANIMAL isn't behaving like a human. 

How many times have you heard people say 'I can't let him off the lead because he runs up to other dogs and starts sniffing them!' or 'I can only walk my dogs when there's no-one else around as they bark at other dogs!' What about 'I have to keep her on a really short lead as she sniffs everything otherwise' or even 'Every time I let him off the lead he goes and rolls in something disgusting and so he's never getting off again!'?

The thing is, although we might not like some of these behaviours, they are perfectly normal to dogs and we really should be letting our dogs be exactly what they are - dogs. Dogs like to sniff other dogs so that they can decide whether the other dog is a friend or a foe but all too often I see people dragging their dogs away from other dogs as they are afraid of a fight starting. A fight is more likely to start because the dog is being dragged away and not allowed to carry out his investigation. 

We speak. Dogs bark. That's all there is to it. I'm not saying that dogs should be allowed to bark continuously - of course they shouldn't - but they do need to be allowed to bark occasionally. Barks can mean all sorts of things but I intend go into that in much more detail in another post. One of my dogs starts barking whenever she sees another dog. She's not aggressive and it doesn't go on for long but it worries some of the other owners. I spoke to my vet about this recently. He said that he felt that her letting the other dogs know that she was there was perfectly acceptable. In fact he said that she was just doing what dogs do and I absolutely agree with him.

How would you like it if, every time you went to read a newspaper or watch the news on TV or look at a news channel on the internet, your dog pulled you away and told you that you weren't allowed to do that? I'm guessing you would feel pretty annoyed. Well, that's what we do every time we stop our dogs from sniffing out on a walk. Sniffing is one of the most natural things for a dog to do and yet day in and day out I see people hauling their dogs away from trees, lamp-posts etc. It seems to be that if the dog isn't walking perfectly by their side with its head in the air and complete focus on nothing but getting through the walk then it isn't behaving. Again I'm not saying that you should allow your dog to tow you all over the place but I do think they need a bit of freedom to do the things that dogs do.

So please, give a little bit of thought to the needs of your dogs. They are not little humans in furry coats. They are animals who are driven very much by instinct and have needs just like we do. What we have to remember is that our needs and our dogs' needs are very different and we have to learn to accept that. Try putting yourself in their shoes. Would you like to have to give up doing something you loved just because it didn't conform to someone else's idea of perfection?

I certainly wouldn't!

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