The famous John Holmes quote, “A dog is not almost human,” has caused many adoring pet owners to reflect on the expectations they have for their dogs. If you’re like most pet parents, you probably expect your dogs to refrain from chasing after birds and squirrels, barking at every other canine that comes near their territory, and helping themselves to whatever human treats are left on the counter. While these guidelines are meant to help look out for your pet’s health and safety, you’re still attributing human characteristics to your four-legged pals. To make it fair, make sure you’re doing enough to become part dog, so you can meet your furry friends halfway. There are at least four ways to meet your dog halfway:
While humans might live in a rigid world where everything is clean and organized and personal space is valued and respected, try to keep in mind that your dogs have no sense of what human boundaries are. To them, it’s perfectly acceptable to step right into your bubble, lick your face over and over, and then, no matter what size they may be, plop directly on your lap, getting fur all over your black pants. Instead of scolding your pup for these normal canine behaviors, learn to deal with them. If you take on the responsibility of adopting Fido into your household, these should be incidents you’re ready to experience on a day-to-day basis, and by putting up a fight every time you get bumped into or slobbered on, you’re only creating a negative atmosphere for both you and your pets.
Stop Making Excuses
It’s easy to want to skip the afternoon dog walk after a long day at the office, but avoid making excuses no matter how tired you are. Your pets eagerly wait for the moment they get to greet you at the door with their ferociously wagging tails, so don’t let them down by being too preoccupied to take them on a half hour walk. Yes, dinner needs to be made and the laundry need to get done, but if you can’t spare a few extra minutes to play fetch, you’re far from contributing your part in the relationship.
Keep Your Dogs Entertained
It’s important to engage in activity with your pets, but also try to think of ways for them to stay entertained while you’re away or busy. Consider installing a wireless dog fence for your backyard so they can safely keep an eye on what’s going on around the neighborhood; being cooped up all day is enough to make anyone experience cabin fever, and dogs are no different.
If you don’t have the right yard for that, brainstorm other ways to keep their minds stimulated. For example, you can fill a dog toy (such as a KONG) with peanut butter, freeze it overnight, and give it to your dogs before you head to work. They will be occupied for several hours while trying to get the peanut butter out of their toys, and it will be a sweet, healthy reward for them as it un-thaws.
Frequent Off Leash Areas
Aside from the opportunity to run freely and exert their pent-up energy, off leash areas are vital in helping your dogs regularly interact with members of their own species. Even though your animals love being part of a family of humans, they still need to have moments where they can uninhibitedly associate with other dogs. If the roles were reversed, you would miss being able to have a human conversation with someone, so make sure you’re giving your friends a chance to indulge in some much needed dog time.
When you think of the behavioral changes dogs make when they settle into the human world, it can be interesting to look at what changes you’ve made to adapt to theirs. It’s not hard to meet them halfway, and it essentially comes down to the famous bumper sticker dog enthusiasts everywhere proudly sport on their cars: wag more, bark less.
About the Author: Ron Rutherford is a freelance writer who focuses on everything dogs. When he’s not volunteering at his local humane society, he writes about pet care and safety for the wireless dog fence provider, Havahart Wireless.