To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often – Winston Churchill
There are many accomplishments I’m proud of as a dog owner. I’ve worked hard on Porter’s food aggression and the results are staggering. His dog reactivity has also extremely improved over the time that he’s been with us. However, the one thing I’m most proud of as a dog owner? The fact that I can admit when he’s being a total jerk.
The first step is admitting the problem right? Well, if I was never able to admit that Porter isn’t perfect then I’d never be able to work on his issues.
Hi, My name is Danika, I’m a dog trainer, and my dog can be a total jerk sometimes.
Imagine the first time that he tried to take my arm off while eating. Now, if I had just said “Oh, he’s just a stray, poor guy needs more food!” I would not only have a very fat dog, I would also have a very dangerous dog. Instead my thought process was, “Well, crap, we have to deal with some food aggression here” and I dealt with the situation little by little (if you’re having trouble with any resource guarding/food aggression check out these articles and please give us a call).
Or how about the first time he lunged, growled and raised his hackles at another dog? If I had just said “Oh, he just wants to play and is just unsure of the situation” I’d have had a lot more trouble on my hands. My response, “Well, crap, now we have some dog reactivity. That’s unacceptable” and my Piloting kicked into full gear.
My dog isn’t perfect. Sure, he has his moments of pure genius. Like the other day when we were able to place a bag of open chips on the floor next to him and he didn’t even think about making a dive for them. But, he also has his moments of pure assholery, like the other day when he would not calm down or stop jumping when I grabbed his leash. I praised the calm dog next to the chip bag, and gave the terror a negative and waited for him to calm down before we went anywhere. But, now I know we need to work more on pre-leash and door manners.
One of my pet peeves is owners that won’t admit that their dog might need some work and will only make excuses or stupid cooing noises. No dog is perfect. They’re not supposed to be! That would be just plain boring. It’s okay that they’re not perfect. It’s okay that they bark incessantly, they steal things off the counters, the pee on the carpet. But, it’s only okay if you acknowledge the fact that maybe there are some things (like the PAW method) that you can provide your dog to work on those behaviors and actually take steps to work on them.
If you admit your dog isn’t perfect you’ll feel better. I promise. And then, you get to work on those issues. It’ll be challenging of course, but it will also be so rewarding. It’ll be something you work on together and you’ll see the results. You can’t make your dog an even better dog unless you admit they’re not pure perfection to begin with.
The other day Porter and I were lucky enough to have a photo session with Brittany of Brittany Graham Photography. She is great with animals and is a level of sweet and nice that really makes me question if I’m a terrible person on a daily basis. Porter was up to his old tricks, beyond excited, super hyper, generally just a terrible dog. My Piloting went into gear immediately, however grass is super exciting apparently and when it’s taller than you are, all you want to do is stick your head in it and smell everything.
Brittany’s response to all of these general jerk dogness antics was “Oh! This is such good practice for me when I work with active dogs!”
My response: “Nope, this is good practice when you just work with jerks. Dog or not.”
I’ll always admit when he’s being a jerk. And then, I will work on why he’s being a jerk so that he can just be a goofy dog again.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH