Want Me In Your Inbox?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lazy? Or Responsible...

Today, when I remarked to a friend of mine that I didn't want to own a dog, he called me lazy. My reasoning is that I currently enjoy the freedom that comes with owning a cat who fares pretty well on her own. She has an automatic feeder, and I usually clean her litterbox daily. She can go longer, however, if I can't make it home for whatever reason. Other than that, a little love goes a long way with her. Dogs, on the other hand, require a minimum of three walks every day. Even if they have a feeder like my cat does, you can't skip a dog's walk or he'll have an accident. Or, if he's anything like a client I used to have, he'll hold it until he's nearly exploding and then make himself sick. If you're lucky enough to live where you can have doggie doors, like my parents, don't think that you get off scott-free. Dogs need WAY more daily interaction than the occasional pat on the head. Leaving them home alone all day just isn't a great life for a dog.

I tend to think of myself as responsible for not getting a dog, despite the joy I know it would bring to my life. It's not fair to me OR the dog if I get one and then don't have the desire to take care of it. Perhaps when I'm more settled in my life, I'll be ready to take on the added 'burden' of a dog, but for now I'm good with my moody feline. All too many people get a dog before fully realizing the time and cost it entails. And then the dog either ends up leading a less-than-satisfactory life of neglect, or she finds herself in a shelter because her owners didn't bother to plan ahead. So while my social life may keep me from having the energy or patience for a dog, I don't necessarily think my selfish decision is a bad one. Instead, I'll just continue to enjoy my friends' dogs, like Jackie, pictured below.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Location, Location, Location

I am a firm believer that where you train a dog is just as important as how you train one, and I believe this for a few reasons. First of all, the fewer distractions, the better. That goes for both human and dog- if you're in a store or populated public area, the task of keeping your attention focused on the training becomes infinitely more difficult. Secondly, if there is a specific behavior that you are looking to correct, it is important to address that behavior first in the location where it happens most frequently. That way, as a trainer, you can see a true representation of the problem, and as an owner, you don't feel like you've taken your car to the mechanic and the problem no longer occurs.

Dogs, as a rule, aren't great at generalizing. You'll notice that even though you've trained your pooch not to jump on your couch at home, if you take him to someplace else with a couch, he will often test his boundaries and see if THIS couch is just as off-limits as the one in your house. The good news is, once he's been trained correctly to listen to your commands, it will probably be a lot easier to keep him from the new couch even though it is in an unfamiliar setting.

Does this mean you should ONLY train a dog in one place? Absolutely not. In fact, once you get basic obedience down, it's very beneficial to practice in many different locations so that your dog knows that he should always look to you for instructions, no matter where you are. However, I do believe in-home training can be advantageous to all involved parties for the reasons I stated above. Just make sure, if you choose to train in your own home, that your dog still gets ample opportunity to socialize with other dogs!