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Four Ways to Meet Your Dog Halfway

cute dog

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:

Lighten Up

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.

cute dog

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.



  1. Dawn says

    The first one is a very good one. Rules are great. We follow some rules very strictly – no getting in the garden, on the furniture, into the trash. or on the tables and counters; no jumping on guests, no eating poop, and please try to stop pulling on the leash. But my dogs aren’t in the military. They get leeway in other things – occasional cuddle time on the furniture, lots of tricks for treats, Maya likes to sneak in slobbery kisses, and we do a lot of the second and third points you made. But not much of the fourth one. Maya & Pierson have each other. And Pierson is dog aggressive so he is absolutely forbidden from off leash dog parks – for both his safety, and the safety of other dogs.

    • Carol Bryant says

      I concur, Dawn – my dog isn’t military either. I’ve had dogs 20 years and they are allowed on furniture, bed, etc and I am not a fan of wireless fences. Wanted to showcase this writer’s viewpoint. Thx for chiming in 😉

  2. emma says

    Good points and that first one is so true at our house. My sister is a Kuvasz and anyone that knows the breed knows it means white fur everywhere 24/7/365! Mom simply has not worn dark colors for the past 11 years, if she has to, she slips them on in the garage before getting in the car. We don’t apologize to guests anymore either. They know about Katie and if you come to our house, be ready for fur! We are lucky as Mom thinks more about us and what we need that about her lots of the time but lots of dogs are not thought about enough and we feel bad for them.

  3. Garth Riley says

    Excellent post (although we’re not a fan of invisible fences either – my dad has found a number of lost dogs with invisible fence collars on – plus there are many places where it’s just not safe to leave a dog inside an invisible fence). Obviously the “frequent off leash areas” can’t be applied to all dogs, but if it can be done safely with your dog, DO IT! The main point of the article is awesome – humans need to be aware that dogs are required to act pretty un-doglike much of the time, so it’s important to give us a chance to be dogs!

    (Btw momma loves it that I crawl into her lap and lick her face, then rest my head on her shoulder or some other body part (who doesn’t love snuggling?) and has no problem allowing me on the couch. In fact, it would make her sad if I didn’t want to sit on the couch with her.)


    • Carol Bryant says

      Standing up and applauding you, Garth, “it’s important to give us a chance to be dogs!”

  4. Jana Rade says

    It is often amazing how much we expect dogs to fit into our lives, with no accommodations on our part. And yet, we’d lose our minds, if something like that happened to us.

    Our guys were always considered with everything we do. “How is this going to work for the dog?” was always a deciding factor. Not going out on the walk? Out of the question. Well, Jasmine made sure of that, anyway.

  5. Ron Rutherford says

    Glad to hear other pet parents agree! Being lighthearted makes life more enjoyable for both me and my pets.