CANINE CONNECTION: Let 2020 be the year of the good dog owner

It’s that time of year again ... promises, promises, promises.

That’s right, the reset button has been pressed and we get another year to get it right.

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We start the new year resolving to find ways to be better than we were last year. It might be to lose weight, eat better or whatever flight of fancy comes to mind at the dawn of the new year, but there is some resolve to change, or at least give the idea of change a thought.

But where does one start?  Change is a scary word for many people as they feel that a way of life they have become quite accustomed to, regardless of whether they were happy or not, is going to end. And without a guarantee that the changes they make will reap rewards they often end up repeating old habits by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, even if their old ways brought them grief. Silly humans.

But changes don’t have to be grand to be life changing. Changes can be small and gradual and still impactful at creating a better and happier existence.

As an example, what if you as a dog owner decided you’re tired of people giving you dirty looks, hollering at you to get control of your dog or having to break up a dog fight every time you yell “My dog is friendly!” What if you decided this year was the year you were going to be more responsible for your dog’s behaviour?

Eeeck! That’s crazy talk, right?

Well, not if you consider the fact that it is super easy to do and will not only make the lives of the people around you better, but yours and your dog’s as well! 

To start on this change, you have to understand and recognize that the behaviour of allowing your dog to run up to whomever they want is not a healthy behaviour for your dog or you. It is actually very careless, highly stressful to your dog and irresponsible. I guarantee that despite the rose coloured I’m-a-dog-whisperer sunglasses that make everyone else seem crazy for not seeing it too – no one appreciates it. Not one single person or dog.

I know I’m bursting a lot of bubbles right now, and your confidence is shattered, but that’s OK because once you take responsibility for your dog’s behaviour this super crazy thing happens: you and your dog gain confidence! 

Wait, what?

Yes, its true. But chillax a bit and don’t overthink it because you are probably in denial right now and that is OK, because recognizing you are denying that there is a problem and that you and only you are the cause of your life’s grief, is actually the first step. But hold on, maybe grab a tissue because there is more and this one is a bit of a biggie.

Yelling “My dog is friendly” does not absolve you of your obligation to be a responsible dog owner by maintaining control over your dog and preventing it from being a nuisance to other people and their dogs.

Poof! Mind blown right?

Yeah, sorry. But there is no magic fairy dust that comes sprinkling down from the clouds once those words are uttered and turns the situation into a Hallmark movie. You are confusing rain with fairy dust and given the fact that this is the wet coast, you can be forgiven for that ... to a degree. We all wish it could be fairy dust when it is mid-January and it has been nine weeks since we have seen the sun and get into arguments on Facebook when someone says the sky is blue and we have proof that it is in fact grey.

I digress.…

In all seriousness, change involves one simple step: choice. At the moment you are about to yell “My dog is friendly,” you are given a choice to change. You can choose the path of growth and maturity and get your dog in control and choose to take an obedience class. Or you can choose to go down the same path that you have been and continue to delude yourself that life is better being irresponsible.

Joan Klucha has been working with dogs for more than 20 years in obedience, tracking and behavioural rehabilitation. Contact her at k9kinship@gmail.com.


 

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