The article reads “Well-Behaved Dogs May Have Happier Owners“. From someone that has a:
– dog selective/cat reactive dog
– fearful reactive that-leads-to-demand-barking-for-attention dog
– fearful dog that loves people but selective with other dogs
– blind-ish/deaf-ish oldie but goodie
– a semi-well-behaved Canine Good Citizen.
Can I just say… DUH! Of course owners of well-behaved dogs are happier! Could I work with each and every one of them to improve on their issues, yes. Will I? Nope. I adopted 2 of them specifically because I could handle their quirks! I love them, understand them, and work within their limits. They aren’t perfect but they are happy and I am okay with that. That being said, not everyone wants that perfection. Most genuinally just want a happy dog that listens.
The interesting thing about this article is the statement:
“The findings of this study suggest that if owners do something to improve behaviors that they consider annoying in their dogs, their perceived happiness and dog-owner relationship could improve…” That’s where I come in.
I had a client reach out to me about loose leash walking. She dreaded walking her dog because the dog is a hunting breed that has a strong prey-drive. Since the dog had a history of being off-leash in their gated community, the dog already knew her boundaries but hunted rats and frogs which only reinforced her to explore the area more intensely.
During their initial walks, the client used a Gentle Leader and the dog HATED it. Her previous dogs loved it and took to it rather easily. Problem #1, dogs are individuals and we can’t compare them with each other. Because of her hatred for the GL, the walks were not enjoyable and even caused a negative association with it. We did the positive associations with the GL and the dog tolerated it but I wanted more. I wanted them to love their walks however, my concern was the inconsistency in her expectations. So I asked her, “why do you want her to heel?”
She seemed rather taken aback but thought about it. She just assumed that is how dogs are supposed to walk. After thinking about it, she came to the conclusion that she didn’t want the dog to take her arm off while on walks. That’s doable. My suggestion was getting a long-line. Best of both worlds. The dog is used to having more freedom but she wanted better control. we tried out the 30ft but it seemed a little too long but 20ft was just right. They love going on walks and work daily on having her to “Come” when called, and to stop when she begins to put any tension on the leash.
The point is, does your dog have to be perfect? No. This client and I worked together to find a solution that works best for them and enriched both of their lives. Now, the dog LOVES walks, she has full control of her dog, and doesn’t have her arm taken off during walks.