Want to make a Dog Trainer’s hair stand on end? Refer to your dog as a “Furbaby” and watch the fur fly! Our compawsionate Holiday Barn Trainers totally understand the term “furbaby” as they too have 4-legged children whom they adore. But they are adamant about us knowing why it is important that we understand the difference between dogs and children.
Put the word “furbaby” in google and read how angry this term makes some people. Why it resonates such anger, I’m not sure. Understandably, the sacrifices made for human children, the pain of labor, the life-long commitment, these are things that cannot be duplicated with our pets. Some of these writers get into the whole argument of the rights of people vs the rights of animals, or guardianship vs ownership… That’s not what we’re talking about here.
What’s the Difference?
My dog was a rescue and, fortunately for me, has apparently been well-trained by his previous owner. He walks obediently by my side; he knows I am to enter a room before him; he waits for my permission before leaping into bed. There are a lot of things he doesn’t know, or pretends he doesn’t know…like “come”, or “sit”, but he is totally manageable. I can spoil him and coddle him and he still understands his place in our relationship. What if that were not the case? What if I had adopted a dog who had no disciplinary training and competed with me to be the “leader”? That’s one of those times when you need to know the difference between a dog and a child.
Discipline Helps Create Order for Dogs
In many ways, you discipline a dog as you would a child. You need to be firm. You need to be confident. You need to be consistent. You need to provide rules and structure. Just as importantly, you need to provide affection, safety, proper nutrition, and so on. However, dogs are very “pack” and “order” oriented. That’s how they “think”. That’s how their world stacks up. Without this kind of “order” in their lives, they become confused and conflicted. We must understand the pack dynamic in order to raise obedient and well-adjusted little “beings”.
Misbehavior of Dogs
Domination and/or misbehavior is often the result of a lack of discipline, babying or a combination of both. We create or allow our dogs to become dominate when their social order is not established at home. A dominant dog challenges control and believes he is “alpha” to dogs and humans alike. Once the dog’s owner acquiesces to his “demands”, the dog will most often press forward, demonstrating his authority, often with bad results. Another side effect of treating your dog like a human and ignoring his canine needs is a dog with a lack of confidence. Some have trouble dealing with the world around them because they are constantly being coddled by their owners, leading to a dog that cannot cope with any amount of stress.
Our trainers work with dogs like this every day, gently but firmly teaching these dogs a proper hierarchy. They also have to do a great deal of training for the other end of the leash, by helping owners understand the proper way to give affection and why respecting their dog’s needs is so important. It’s up to the owner to enforce the training, and establish the dog’s proper place in their family.
One of the sweetest things our Trainer, Melanie, has said to me is, “I’m okay with the term “furbabies”, but I think we do dogs a great injustice by not accepting them as what they are, as if being a dog is not good enough, like we need them to be human….I don’t know about you but what I love most about dogs is that they are, dogs; all the things that make them better than human :-)”. So very true.