A blog about my life with dogs.......

Monday, May 23, 2011

Doggy Reads and Doggy Deeds

I have to recommend to you a book I learned a lot from, entitled "Why does my dog act that way? A complete guide to your dogs personality" By Stanley Coren. I picked this gem up at a used book store in my area after I noticed a good review on it's back page from one of my favorite Animal Behaviorists (Patricia McConnell). This book opens your mind to an interesting world of thought on how our lovable companions got to be the lovable companions they are from the point of there birth, how experiences shape a dogs mind and before birth, discussions of studies on the genetic traits of our canine companions, where they came from and how. This book also includes an interesting 'personality profile' test and an appendix of personality profiles based on individual breeds.

Although I found myself in a personal struggle with some of the "findings" discussing pit bull terriers (looking back through the book, I made several notes in the margins and even had a page of rebuttal stuffed into the pit bull chapter siting a lack of public ability to identify the breed correctly which could skew bite reporting accuracy, as well as a high occurrence of abusing this breed for fighting or other purposes which was not , in my opinion, accurately portrayed in the data presented to the reader. A sensitive subject for me.) I found this book worthy of keeping my attention and an informative read indeed.

Doggy don't!
While enjoying a sunny day in the woods with a crew of Frisbee golfers an off leash Corgi ran straight up to Comet and I and sniffed quietly at his nose. The owner of this off leash dog continued to throw his Frisbee, after all his little off leash dog was clearly no threat to my nearly 70 pound Great Pyrenees mix......right? Well Comet's reaction to this rude little dude was loud and noticed by all eyes and ears in the park. Here we are behaving so nicely until now and next thing you know the whole park is looking at my loud dog. I can tell you what the people see. They see a big naughty dog that has to be kept on a leash.

Stop and look at this from the point of view of the leashed dog(eh-ehm, and the person at the end of the leash who is, by the way, following the rules of the park by keeping her dog leashed) you might notice that the quiet, closed mouth, little dog, was exhibiting behavior more like stalking then a "hello" or "lets play". This Corgi new she was off leash, and she knew Comet wasn't. Comets' response, loud, ruckus barking. I got a 'look' from the off leashing person who put his dog on leash for long enough at least for Comet and I to leave the area. Sigh, after a lovely walk with my well behaved dog, I ended my time in the park with a bit of disappointment. Why couldn't Comet just ignore that little stinker?

This is a great time to discuss our expectations of our dogs. Just like I am human and can't be right all the time (though, as a women this fact is debatable! ha!) so is my dog, only a dog and can't be perfect all the time. Neither can we expect that a super friendly well socialized dog, will be friends with every dog that he meets, just like, as much as I might try, I don't expect myself to be best buddies with each new dog owner, coworker, or friend of a friend I might meet. Anoter example, even if I knew I was on a diet, it would be tough not to eat at least some of a plate of brownies brought as a gift from my neighbor, just like even if the dog knows the counter top is off limits he can't help but notice you left the hot dogs on the counter, so he ate them all.

One of my favorite lines I've ever heard, (thanks, Victoria Stillwell) works so well when we think of our dogs, and just as well as we walk through our own lives,....."Set up for success."
For example:
Set your dog up for success by exercising him or her appropriately before having a guest over and expecting your dog to be a well behaved furry angel.
Set yourself up for success walking into work well rested, well fed, and with a positive attitude.

With all this in mind it would be remiss of me to continue recommending books with out pushing onto you my favorite dog author, and someone I am likely to reference repeatedly through-out my blogging. Patricia McConnell's books "The other end of the Leash" and "For the love of a dog" are two great reads from McConnell. But the great reads don't stop there. Check out her website for mini reads on specific behavior problems, like anxiety and leash manners.

And, dog gone it, get outside and enjoy your dog! Here in Iowa, the weather is just perfect for enjoying your dog! This week, I set up an old wash tub full of water in the yard for the pooches to cool off in. I get a laugh every time I see Comet 'digging' in the water. Hikes are lovely this time of year, get out early and beat the heat. But watch our for poison ivy, oak and other nasty plants like Nettles!

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