I my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to write about a book I finished a while ago. Well, surprise, surprise, I am going to write about TWO books. Yaaay!
The reason I decide to put them together is that they’re both on the same topic, and by the same author: dogs, and Cesar Millan, respectively.
I’ve mentioned in past blogs that I have two dogs. They are known under various names, including “Monkey”, “Baby boy”,”Little fella”, “Silly face”, and pretty much anything else I come up with, but their actual names are Tommy and Lupu. Tommy is the eldest, and he received his name because my grandmother had a dog named Tommy in her youth, and I though that it would make her happy to have another 4-legged creature with the same name. Lupu received his name because his fur resembled that of a wolf (and “Lupu” means “wolf” in Romanian), but as I found out, his personality doesn’t match his name in any respect. Still, it’s a cool contrast.
But back to the topic. I bought these books a while ago, and after having read them,I gotta say: man, I wish I had them when my silly faces were babies. I guess it was just one of those things, where because I had grown up with dogs, I was under the impression I knew all there was to know about them.
Not so, not so. The more time passed, the more I realized how little I actually know about these creatures I had spent my entire childhood with. I’m glad I read them, because now I understand my dogs better. I no longer expect more than they’re capable of giving, and my relationship with them has improved. Well, not entirely, but you know…gettin’ there :).
Now, on to the lessons. As per usual, these are just a few of the things I learnt, because if I were to write everything, it would take a while.
1.Dogs are animals.
You’re probably going like “No shit, Sherlock!”. Yeah, I know…sounds pretty obvious. But you see, I believe many of us (including me), think of dogs as sort of weird-looking humans, and expect from them things that only a human can do. We expect them to understand when we’re sad, and we want them to comfort us. Surely, all those movies we’ve seen must show exactly how dogs actually act, right? While a very few dogs do react to sadness in the specific way we would want them to, most don’t. I’m not saying here that they don’t perceive it; just that they don’t know how we want them to react to that. There are plenty of other examples, and perhaps I’ll tackle this topic later on, but you get the point: treat dogs like they’re dogs, adjust your expectations of them, and your relationship will improve.
2. Dogs need to be respected.
Dogs should be treated in the best way possible according to their own needs, which are driven by their genes (aka by their innate “dogness”). Many people forget that dogs need to be respected, in more ways than one. They may not be “smart” in the way you expect them to be, but they sure as hell have a bright mind.Even the less…umm…cognitively-gifted ones still have qualities that need to be respected. Find those qualities, and appreciate your doggie for them.
3. Dogs need exercise.
They’re active creatures, and they’re used to getting their hearts pumping. Run with them, go for walks, play, or do anything that you and your little one may enjoy. Here’s the thing: don’t expect them to be well-behaved when they’re carrying a lot of extra energy with them. They might just need to release it by…say, chewing all your furniture.
4. Take responsibility.
Another obvious one, that a lot of people seem to forget. It’s your dog, so it’s your responsibility. If you haven’t had time to invest in their training, don’t complain about how “badly” they behave. They are simply doing what is in their nature; they’re not doing it to spite you. If you haven’t train them well, don’t expect that by the grace of some unknown Dog Lords, your little one will act exactly as you want him or her to act. Oh, and one more thing: if you don’t have time for a dog, don’t get one, only to realize a few months later that you can’t take care of one. That’s how dogs end up on the street and with miserable lives.
5. Enforce boundaries.
Yes, dogs need love to thrive. You know what else they need? Boundaries. Dogs are used to living in a pack, where the leader enforces boundaries so that the entire pack is happy. When they lack those boundaries, they are not in their “natural” state, and as much as you think they like it, they don’t. You also probably don’t like it when they don’t listen. A well-behaved dog is a happy one.
These are just a few of the lessons these books have taught me. Cesar Millan is a wonderful teacher when it comes to dogs, and I love using his approach. While there’s still a bit to go with my own pups, I have already learnt a lot.