By Nancy Cope
Imagine that your spouse has just returned home from work. You answer the door with a smile, and your spouse slaps you across the face and bellows, “That’s for leaving your roller skates on the landing three weeks ago.”
Imagine that a similar punishment was administered several times during the next week for things that happened long ago. It wouldn’t take long for you to be filled with fear whenever your spouse came home from work.
Imagine now that your are a dog, and earlier in the day physical discomfort forced you to poop on the kitchen floor.
Hours later, when your owner returned from work and you rushed to the door wagging your tail in joyful anticipation, your owner steps into the house, looks at the kitchen floor, and bellows angrily as he slaps you with a rolled up newspaper.
Imagine that a similar punishment was administered several times during the following week. It would not take long for you to shy away from the front door when your owner returned from work.
Some owners tend to anthropomorphize their dogs; give them human motives for everything they do, especially when it annoys the owner.
Dogs don’t have a logical sense of history. To them, a punishment relates to current activity. When a dog runs to a door to greet his master and is punished for a deed done hours before, the dog understands only that he was punished for running to the door to greet his master. He will curb the current behavior of running to the door, not the behavior for which he was punished.
All dogs want to please their owners. In fact, if you’ve ever gone to a pet store to view the puppies, you’ll realize that they want to please everyone. They naturally prefer happy and secure to sad and frightened. Unless a dog has a psychosis (very rare) or is in some sort of chronic or acute physical distress, he will exhibit happy exuberance for people unless he has learned through experience that punishment will be his reward for the attempt.
Dogs can’t read minds, but they can interpret expressions and body language. If your dog is used to having a happy owner greet him with a smile and a pleasant voice, he’ll turn himself inside out to express his joy. He will recognize the owner’s uplifting mood and joyful body language.
If he is conditioned to an angry accusatory mood and threatening body language when the owner enters the house, looking for problems, he will shy away when the owner exhibits such behavior, and worse, will be on guard with trepidation in anticipation of that behavior.
Dogs do not plan to annoy their owners. When they exhibit unacceptable behavior it is most often the owner’s responsibility for not providing the appropriate training. Attempts to correct a dog’s behavior should be gentle, firm, and consistent.
Give your dog has activities and toys to keep him occupied when you are gone from the home, otherwise the dog gets bored.
Dogs are like human babies. All of their needs are immediate, but they can be taught appropriate behaviors for living in a home.
Not training a dog properly becomes a long-term annoyance to the owner, and a lifelong handicap for the dog.
Nancy Cope is the owner of four rescue dogs and Pampered Dog Gifts.