Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Commitment and Inconvenience

One of our dogs got out of our fence at 6:00 this morning. Luckily, I was standing at the door to the backyard and heard her escape. (It was too dark to SEE her escape.) I grabbed a leash and immediately ran out the front door. My first impulse was to run after her, screaming. In most times of panic and crisis, our first instincts are the exact wrong thing to do. Even though she has not been trained consistently enough to have a good instinct to "come," I have been trained well enough lately to resist the urge to run through the neighborhood, chasing her and screaming like a crazy woman. I did all of the things that I have learned in our recent training seminars - AND THEY WORKED!

I can't tell you how often I hear excuses from people about why they can't train their dogs. Most who think off training want to send their dog off to "boot camp" for a few weeks, and let someone else do all of the work. (Read this article about why dog "boot camps" don't work.) And 90% of the time, dogs end up in shelters or rescue groups, abandoned on the streets, or euthanized, as a result of very trainable, treatable behaviors. These same people who didn't have enough time or energy to train their dogs get so angry at us when we won't take over the responsibility for the problems they failed to address in the first place. If my dog this morning had been permanently lost, had been injured or had been hit by a car, it would have been my fault, not hers, for not making the commitment to her training. If I had taken the time to perfect the "come" command BEFORE the crisis occurred, the whole experience might have been quicker and less scary for me (of course, she wasn't scared - she was having fun).

Having a pet requires a commitment. Pets are not really active toys or animated stuffed animals. We can't just fill up the food and water bowls and throw a few toys out, and expect that our dog will just "get it" and turn into that vision of a perfect family dog that we imagine in our heads. We can't just put a scratching pad on the floor and a litter box in the bathroom and expect to have a cat who immediately "knows" the rules of the house. When we adopt a dog or cat, we aren't just making a commitment to a certain amount of time, but we are promising that dog or cat, and ourselves, to provide the best possible life for our new companion, and that includes training, even when it's inconvenient. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S INCONVENIENT.

For training resources, visit:

AARF's Polite Pups Seminars
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
K9U Training and Behavior Modification
Paws-A-Tive Results Dog Training

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hear hear!