And it means something different to everyone…
“My dog can sit nicely” “My dog comes back whenever I call him” “My dog is the best snuggler” “My dog can leap out of helicopters, chase bad guys, search for a missing child or put up with endless amounts of kid torture without losing his cool”.
There are so many ways our dogs prove their worth to us every day in hundreds of contexts.
There are so many ways our dogs prove their worth to us every day in hundreds of contexts. Sometimes, all a dog has to do is look attractive and sometimes they will risk their lives for us.
What is a good dog?
These amazing guys fit into our lives in so many guises that it is sometimes easy for us to take them for granted.
What is a good dog?
Is he a partner that shares our adventures or has he become the quiet, resigned guy on the sidelines, waiting to be noticed.
When folks refer to a “good dog” I have often interpreted that as a dog that does not need a huge amount of attention. The gentle Golden Retrievers who will thrive in the Family Dynamic and never hold a grudge… The tiny lapdogs who will allow you to hold them all day long?
Our dogs wait quietly for their food and do not steal anyone else’s.
In my house, there are clear parameters for “good dog-ness”
Our dogs do not “roughhouse” inside. Our dogs do not counter surf. Our dogs do not barge through doors ahead of us.
Our dogs wait quietly for their food and do not steal anyone else’s. Our dogs sit politely to have leashes and collars attached. Our dogs load up into the car, tolerate newcomers and walk nicely on a leash. They come when called and will give up all and any toys, balls or food immediately when asked.
They did not simply become “good dogs”…
They did not simply become “good dogs” but have been shaped, rewarded, and corrected since we have known them so that our lives will sync up and flow smoothly…BUT
They all have a steady and consistent routine that consists of regular individual attention, even if it is only a short ball playing session or a working lesson.
They get along, off property walk every day…rain, snow, cold or hot weather.
They are allowed to be with us, inside and out, when we are working, having fun, hiking, traveling or writing on the computer.
They are fed responsibly at the same time (approximately) every day, their health is supported and their needs are considered along with the rest of the family.
“Good” behavior has been taught and “bad” behavior has been redirected. Consistently.
Now, I know this sounds like a lot of work but honestly, any relationship needs definition…
BUT everyone has a different lifestyle, and the trick is to integrate your rhythms so that everyone can be fulfilled.
Now, I know this sounds like a lot of work but honestly, any relationship needs definition, some boundaries and some give and take…Just because your family member or partner is four-legged and furry it does not mean that they can be marginalized or ignored and it is much more difficult to continue to pay attention to your dog once he or she has been around for a year or two and is no longer the cute, adorable bundle who gave you so much joy as a pup!!
I would like to also say that if you put in the time to establish what your needs are and continue to meet your dog’s needs as they grow, your partnership will be mostly peaceful and harmonious.
Yes, the first year can be challenging and there will be times when you both do not see eye to eye but stay with your program, and then when your life changes or you must adjust to new situations, your dog will look to you as his trustworthy leader and help you through the crazy days….
Remember to make a plan when you consider adding a Canine member to your pack. Don’t romanticize….
Be honest about what you need in a dog and don’t set yourself up for disappointment and frustration by acquiring a Malinois when you only have time and energy for a Pekinese.
One dog at a time is much more manageable than two, especially when they are youngsters…Ask any Mom with twins!
Try not to load your plate with more tasks than you can manage and don’t think that your children will raise your puppy for you.
A good dog is an amazing gift and a pleasure to know…
I know we all have a picture of what our “good dog” looks like but it would be interesting to hear what their opinion of what a “good owner” is!!!
Let’s try to remember what a long-term commitment to owning a dog is and plan for the long haul…
A good dog is an amazing gift and a pleasure to know but a dog can only be as good as his mentors and when the partnership is mutually supportive, the world smiles…
And when your pup has you tearing your hair out in clumps – hear me now, “A walk in the woods is Valium for your dog” and it might make you feel pretty good too!
– Janine Lazarus, HashtagWV #136. October 2021. For more dog training tips, follow Janine at Goodladd.net and on facebook @goodladddogtraining.