Let ’s go hand in hand, not one before another – William Shakespeare
There’s no such thing as the perfect dog owner. A consistent dog owner? Absolutely! But perfect? Nope. Because, guess what? We’re human! Have you also noticed how even if your dog is perfectly trained (don’t kid yourself though) they’ll still do a few things just to push the limits? Dogs provide our lives with adventure, mischief and attitude. Why would we ever want to take that completely away?
We all strive for a well behaved dog. And sometimes, when we don’t answer a question properly or don’t have enough money in our Piloting Piggy Bank, our dogs make decisions that we had hoped they wouldn’t. Sometimes this can be as frustrating as reacting to another dog, but sometimes, sometimes, it can be just darn hilarious. I’m guilty! I don’t always answer Porter’s questions. But, the key here is, occasionally you just have to laugh and not take things so seriously. I’m not giving you permission to take time off from Piloting, I’m just saying that sometimes, when you forget to Pilot, don’t get mad at yourself or your four legged friend. Try and let it go.
The other day I was reminded of the lesson: The absence of no means yes. With any dog, if they ask a question (Is that dog a threat? Can I take up all the room on the bed? Can I try and cuddle with the cat?) and you forget to answer, they’ll always assume the answer is yes.
The other night I decided to multi task and feed Porter as I was cooking dinner. It takes him a while to finish his food (thank you Busy Buddy Twist N Feed), so I kind of zoned out.
Now, Porter is not allowed in the kitchen. Our kitchen is way too small to have him in there with us, so he knows he has to stay on the carpet. In my multi-tasking hurry I had left the pantry door open along with his food bin. As I was stirring dinner, I realized Porter should probably be done with his food by now. I turned to exit the kitchen and there he was. He had one paw still on the carpet and was completely stretched out with his head just barely in the food bin. He was eating gingerly and hesitantly. Did he know that this was wrong? Of course he did. But did anyone tell him no? Yeah, that was my bad.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Yes, Porter knows better, but he’s also a dog, and has the mentality of a 10 year old boy. He’s going to push the limits and get into trouble every once in a while. And quite honestly, he had probably been asking me for a while if this was allowed, and I didn’t answer no. But you never said I couldn’t!
I didn’t yell, I didn’t scream or get mad at him. I just laughed and said his name. The ears went straight up and off he scurried into his crate. Yup, he gave himself a time out. It’s such a minor thing. In the grand scheme of things, is this going to set back his food aggression? Nope, he left a whole big free pile of food on his own accord! Will I pay more attention next time? You bet. But, it’s not worth the energy to get mad or upset over him pushing the limits every once in a while. I’m the one that’s supposed to be making sure he understands those limits are here to stay. And I’m not going to get mad at myself, I’m just going to take the situation, realize I should have answered his questions, laugh at it and move on.
We put so much pressure on ourselves as dog owners to be the perfect. But, having a dog should also be something that’s enjoyable. Remember, it’s okay to laugh at yourself and your dog. Not every situation is comical, but take advantage of the ones that are. Even if it’s because they’re being little imps. Take a lesson away from it each time, but don’t forget to enjoy the small moments. It’s those stories that you’ll be telling over and over for years.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH