Grow Up

small dog in a cageAt some point early in the life of a human we develop intellectually and emotionally enough to realize that it’s not always just about us. Hopefully when this happens we’ve had plenty of time to learn to feel safe and loved. It’s not an easy step to take, but a step that most of us not only take, but run with. We go on to become teachers, doctors, nurses, builders, volunteers, dog trainers, psychologists, parents, partners, etc. We find ways to live our lives taking the needs of others into consideration. So what the heck happened when it comes to dogs?

It’s one thing to buy a pair of running shoes and to leave them languishing in the closet, it’s another to bring a dog into your home, a dog who may have been bred to be a working or sporting dog and to leave them languishing on the couch or in a crate for hours upon hours a day. They may be young and fit. They may be designed, through a process of genetic selection imposed on them by people, to not only be able to; run for hours, be fast enough to catch and kill small animals, bark with ease for seemingly interminable lengths of time, dig, chew, herd, guard property and objects. Not only are they able to perform these behaviors they are inclined to perform them.

But what dogs are inclined to do seems to have been lost on many of us (though I don’t expect those of you reading this blog to include yourselves in that group). We want to pat ourselves on the back for adopting a hound dog from a rescue group and then never allow them off leash to run. We’ll have good reasons for this, and other restrictions and will use them to justify the use of bark collars and shock collars, choke chains and prongs, to force them into performing the behaviors we need them to perform in order for them to continue to benefit from the good intentions that brought them into our homes.

Dogs may have enabled us to rediscover our inner child who still wants to believe it’s all about us. Don’t make them suffer for it.

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6 comments so far

  1. Cynthia Pakenas on

    AMEN!! No matter what the mix or breed, dogs need mental stimulation as well as physical.

  2. Kay Liestman on

    So true and well said.

  3. Kristen Sukalac on

    I mostly agree with what you say, but having a fear reactive dog that has to be kept on leash so he doesn’t hurt people, I hope you will realize the unintended consequences of your words with regard to keeping a dog on-leash. We do the best we can — we play in the yard and we have a long 10-metre lead for walks in the forest — but at this point in his rehabilitation, it would be irresponsible to other people and to the dog (who could find himself in situations that he can’t cope with and that could stress him immensely) if we let him run off-leash. (We do hope that our vacation in a very remote region will allow him some true off-leash time.) I trust your intentions with this post are good, but the unintended consequences of your remark could push people to let dogs off-leash who don’t have the skills to cope with it.

    • fearfuldogs on

      I’m sorry if was not obviously implied in my piece was “off leash if safe to do so.”


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