By Tony Zimmerman
Cat owners can tell you they don’t own their cat. Instead, it is much more like the cat owns them. A cat’s independent nature is a well-known fact.
But when people own dogs, they expect a more affectionate and dependent attitude. So what do owners do when they find themselves with a dog who thinks for his or herself?
Dogs have temperaments just as cats and people do. Some dogs are eager to please, submissive, and extremely attached to their humans. Independent dogs are more motivated by their own desires, their own rewards, and do not seem to care as much about the disapproval of their owners. Dr. Radcliffe Robins describes an independent temperament as a dog who doesn’t want guidance or affection from other dogs or humans. They do not seem to rely on companionship and prefer to stay by themselves. They are more self-directed and self-reliant.
While this description seems to be very un-dog like and may seem unappealing to some dog owners, having an independent dog may be a better fit for some dog owners. These independent traits can fit into a variety of lifestyles:
- Owners who are away from home a lot
- People who prefer active lifestyles
- Owners who are not very dominant
- Outside dog owners
- People not seeking companionship
Owning an independent dog can be wonderful when it fits your lifestyle. But just as you would cope with different personalities in people, dogs with different temperaments need to be handled differently. While many dogs look to their owners for guidance, the independent dog looks to no one but themselves to take the lead. It is important for owners to undertake training with these dogs as young as possible. Praise, treats, and playing may affect independent dogs differently. It is trial and error to find which rewards work best for each dog. Frequent, short training sessions are best for these dogs as they begin with very little interest in training. If a training session goes on longer than ten or fifteen minutes, you will lose all of your dog’s attention.
There are some steps you can take to help keep your independent dog happier. Allowing them plenty of space and alone time will help your dog to feel comfortable. Installing a PetSafe pet door that allows them to enter and exit when they choose is best. When possible, allow your dog freedom from the leash to explore. However be aware that they may be reluctant to return to the leash afterwards. This is where strong training is important. Independent dogs make excellent outdoor dogs and do well in homes with a lot of land that they can explore on their own. It is also important to understand that temperament is 100 percent genetic. While it is possible to change some behaviors, the basic temperament will not change.
With this in mind, it is important when selecting a puppy or dog that owners discover the temperament of the dog before bringing them home. There are many ways to determine the temperament of a dog as early as seven weeks old. Dogbreedinfo.com offers excellent advice and a puppy temperament test to help people determine the right dog for them.
Tony Zimmerman is a digital marketing manager who spends more time with devices than with his dogs.