Pup has his own plans. He has his own needs and motives. The emotions he feels are as real as anything I’ve ever felt. I just can’t know exactly how they feel to him. I can’t know exactly what it is like to be a dog. The things that are important to him I might not even see. Everything looks different through a dog’s eyes. Maybe everything is more real and present. I can try to imagine the scene made up of scents and the sounds that drift in from far away, the ones I don’t even hear or smell. I can try to imagine, but I bet I can’t even come close to appreciating the differences.
Try to imagine this before you start a training session. What is going to matter to doggie in your environment right now? What is he going to be paying attention to? What will motivate him to focus on you? What makes him angry?
Rio gets angry when he hears people talking outside our door. His hackles raise and he feels the need to go over to the door and with a low, gruff bark he brings my attention to the situation. Why does this make him uncomfortable? He does not seem frightened. Maybe he just wants some peace and quiet. He is like the old man chasing kids from his front lawn.
Think about the people in your training class. What do they want out of life? What does anyone want out of life? Maybe we all just want some peace and quiet and some love. People get dogs for company and to have someone to love them unconditionally, someone who will not judge. We are social creatures and we do not like to be alone. But more and more in modern day, we are finding ourselves isolated from one another. Dogs can bridge the gaps in our lives where there is no one else. They are fun creatures who teach us about ourselves. We need to adapt in order to share our lives with them. We need to learn how to accommodate their needs.
Sometimes people get on our nerves and sometimes doggies get on our nerves. We need to adapt to anyone with whom we are sharing our world. This goes for all sorts of relationships including the relationship we form with our doggies. We each grown in our own ways from our bonding. Rio learns how to function in a foreign world, a world where he must control his doggie impulses, a world where it is not always appropriate to dig, chew, jump, bark, or hump. He learns our language. He learns of our moods, our pleasure and displeasure at his various antics. He learns how to play our games. He learns the pleasure of eye contact. He learns to what degree he can manipulate us into giving him exactly what he wants. What do we get out of all this? Well, we become better people ourselves because we learn to consider another point of view vastly different from our own. We learn communication and compromise. We learn to choose our battles and sometimes to lay down our arms. We learn to laugh at ourselves. We learn sometimes it is best to “shake it off.”
We learn not to underestimate the power of a cute pup. We learn to give rewards for good behavior. We learn to love.