OK, so I'm a big fan of dogs and have had them my whole life. They have always been a source of great joy and meaning for me and I believe that they bring as much to us as we do to them. Sometimes more. Having said that, they can also be a source of many challenges and difficulty too. The sadness of having a dogs health begin to fail and ultimately, facing the decision to put them to sleep, ranks as one of the hardest things I've had to face in my life. But still as difficult as these decisions have been, it has also been more than worth it for all the joy and happiness I've experienced because of my dogs.
Dogs can also present some difficult behavioral issues. I've been relatively lucky in this department, with the dogs I've had, but regardless, there is still plenty to learn. One of my new favorite shows, dealing with the subject dog behavior, is the National Geographic's series, the Dog Whisperer. The name is dorky but the show is great! Cesar Milan is wonderful with the troubled dogs and the source of their problems (his belief), their owners. Milan says that there are no bad dogs, just bad pet owners and his show features a cavalcade of examples of this very fact. Oh my god. The cases range from the run of the mill "barks too much" or "pulls on the leash when I take them for a walk" kind of problem, all the way to total nut job dogs who I can't believe anyone would want to own let alone rehabilitate. Biters, chewers of everything, nervous nellies, total neurotics and everything in between. You name an obnoxious or dangerous dog behavior problem and they've got it on the show.
And then, in comes Cesar to work absolute miracles. Actually his methods are pretty straightforward and common sense. Simply put, we need to be the pack leaders, because dogs are pack animals, not little humans. They become anxious and aggressive when we don't take on the "calm assertive" role. A happy dog is a "calm submissive" one, period, says Cesar. And that is achieved by following the rules of exercise first (at least 45 minutes a day), discipline second and THEN affection. He feels that dogs get crazy because we project our personal (human) needs onto them rather than putting their (canine) needs first. It's an amazing show and I've learned alot.
Luckily we don't have any behavior problems like the ones featured on the show. But even good dogs can get better. Take walking for instance. My arms are tired by the end of being led by my two pups. I was letting them take the alpha role, which was bad for everyone. But no more. We've tried some of Cesar's techniques on walking our good dogs, and already, in a very short amount of time, I see that they are now happier, good dogs. It seems that we were the ones who needed to learn some new tricks. Sit babe!