Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advice on Raising Dogs

Years ago, when I was pregnant with MonkeySee, I was warned numerous times about the well meaning advice I'd get from people far and wide about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.

Because, you know. Everyone knows how to be a mom better than you do, and they are not afraid to share their, uh, wisdom with you.

But nobody, not one damn person, warned me that dog raising would come with the same Holier-Than-Thou pitfalls.

I'm not even going to tell you that I'm any kind of expert in dog behavior or dog training. By necessity, I've done a fair amount of research and question asking. I've tested a few theories and figured out what works best for my dog. But I'm not going to tell anyone what they should be doing differently, partly because I'm no expert and partly because it's just not my place*.

It amazes me the number of people who feel it's acceptable to instruct me on what's wrong with my approach, my collar, my general Dog Raising Skillz.

I took Gomi into a pet store where a perfectly friendly sales clerk suggested that I bring Gomi to her class, because she'd be able to teach Gomi to walk with a regular collar, instead of her Martingale. Regardless that Gomi's Martingale has nothing to do with her obedience or lack thereof. Surely I, as a responsible dog owner, had not made the decision to use a Martingale collar because I like my dog and would prefer she not slip her collar and make a break for it.

Recently we had occasion to visit with the owner of a small dog, who felt the need to discuss how the theory regarding Alphas in wolf packs was based on flawed research and that dog training approaches based on this theory don't work and, furthermore, Cesar Millan is doing it wrong.

Like many people who disagree with the Alpha "theory", she was a proponent of positive reinforcement.

Which, you know. Totally works for some dogs.

Most notably dogs that look like this:

This photo was taken by TSM & Barbara Keller in April 2003.

But not so much dogs that look like this:

The Daily Puppy

LA Unleashed

Courtesy of WineDog

Because people who work with these dogs day in and day out will tell you that, regardless of what you think of certain research, these dogs require strong leaders in order to be well-behaved members of their family packs.

As for my dog, I'm the one that has to live with her. I'm the one that sees her and works with her and has to put up with her every day. Unless she's humping your leg, peeing on your rug or gnawing on your table, please don't tell me that what I'm doing is wrong.

Because, despite her best efforts to the contrary, my dog is pretty damn well behaved.

*Unless you ask for my advice. Or you live with me and are helping raise our dog.

1 comment:

FemmeFairyGodmother said...

so, here's the thing: When I got Nola, I got a bunch of dog books because I know zip about raising puppies. And, despite all the things the damned books tell me, Nola still pees in the house. So I've adopted an old school approach: I smack her fucking ass, yell at her and toss her outside. (Not literally.) She is ALREADY getting better and this is only day freaking 2. And she is not remotely scared of me. *shrugs* All I want is to be able to take her to other people's houses w/o her peeing! Well, that and come when she's called but we'll get there.