Our dogs don’t owe us anything. Nothing at all.
WE make the decision to bring a dog into our lives. We are aware of our circumstances, our environment and what we can and cannot tolerate before we make that decision, and it’s a decision that should not be taken lightly. But once we have decided to offer our homes and hearts to a dog, we have absolutely no right to impose rigid expectations on to them or try to change their inherent nature.
I’ve encountered people who want to adopt a rescue dog ‘for agility’, as a friend for a child or even as an emotional support animal. To plan a dog’s life and future before you’ve even had a chance to meet them is, quite simply, ludicrous. And what happens when the dog doesn’t meet the expectations of their people? They might be punished, surrendered or replaced. All the while, these people are missing the wonderful dog that’s right in front of their eyes, along with all their strengths and positive qualities.
Unrealistic expectations are the death of any relationship. Aside from the more extreme examples, people impose human standards of behaviour on our dogs unthinkingly. Many adopt or buy a dog expecting them to sit quietly through the day, walk at heel and wait patiently for their needs to be met at a time that suits their humans. A dog that barks during a Zoom call then becomes a big problem. It’s a completely unrealistic mindset and can be really harmful to our dogs and our relationships with them.
This is why I always put dogs first in my work. It’s so important to consider the dog’s interests and welfare first - after all, we chose them, not the other way around. Contrary to the beliefs of many, working with dogs IS NOT about changing them - it’s about facilitating a positive and co-operative relationship and learning what makes the dog tick. The most transformative work I’ve done is with clients who have learned how to understand and more effectively communicate with their dogs - it’s an amazing feeling.
Don’t force a square peg into a round hole. Your dog is already amazing - open your eyes and heart, and you’ll see ♥️