Do As I Say… Not As I Do!

It must be really confusing for dogs to live with us!  I was thinking today about all of the things that people do to their dogs or in the presence of their dogs that we expect them to never do.  Here are a few of the things that came to mind:
We go to the bathroom in the house!  Granted, we have a specific spot designated for this, but I’ve met many dogs that had chosen a specific indoor bathroom spot and their owners still aren’t happy.  Believe me, no matter how much air freshener you use, your dog knows that your toilet area is inside!  Perhaps that is why so many dogs sit outside the bathroom door when it is in use…. they want us to know that they know what we’re doing behind that closed door!

We frown upon our dogs acting possessive of things, but we constantly “guard” things from our dogs!  We leave tempting food on the counter and a cache of the best tidbits (aka the trash can) at doggie level, and expect them to not take any of it!  In doggie culture, if you leave a possession unattended then it is up for grabs.  However, we humans leave these treasures unattended and then snarl at our dogs (“leave it!”) if they venture near the treasure trove, or come home from work and rant at them for getting into something that we left out.  If you wanted to save the treasure (I mean trash) for yourself, then why didn’t you take it to work with you?!

We dig in the yard yet forbid our dogs from engaging in this very popular canine pastime!  In fact, I have had people ask how to keep the dog from joining in while they are digging in the garden.  I suggest that if they don’t want the dog to help them dig, then perhaps they should put the dog somewhere else while they garden.  It is hardly fair to expect the dog to just watch all the fun!  It is also wise to keep dogs out of recently planted areas since the smell of freshly dug dirt pretty much screams out “come dig me up!” to a canine’s sensitive nose.

We bother our dogs while they eat but expect them to leave us alone during our meals.  We also expect dogs to graciously accept it when people take their food, toys, or chews away from them.  How many of us would calmly put up with someone taking our stuff away all the time?  Let me tell you, I’ve snarled at my husband when he tries to take something off of my plate!   And if he tried to take away a book I was reading… let’s just say my response wouldn’t be friendly!  Of course, it is important for dogs to learn to be comfortable with people taking things from them.  But I also think it is very important for us to truly appreciate how much we are asking of our dogs.

We disturb our dogs when they are sleeping, playing, reading the “pee mail”, etc.  We expect our dogs to drop what they are doing, no matter how important it is to them, the instant we call.  Yet, if we are in the middle of doing something, we expect our dogs to leave us alone.  Sometimes people even tell me that the dog does it on purpose, as if the dog actually understands that what the person is doing is important.  Well, I’d say that many of the activities that we interrupt our dogs from are just as important to them as our activities are to us!  We actually expect dogs to accept interruptions with more grace than most people do.

When I think about how good natured most dogs are about the crazy rules that humans create, it just makes me appreciate them all the more.  Spend some time thinking about our world from the dog’s point of view and I think you’ll agree that we must seem quite disturbed!  All of the normal canine behaviors that we forbid, all of the canine faux pas we make… we are quite lucky that dogs are so willing to accept us despite all of our faults!