Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{at least} 6 mistakes i've made as a pet parent

 photo mox2_zps39062001.jpg
{my puppy, Moxyn}

Last night, Shawn told me about this article he read about the 11 things humans do that dogs hate. And, you guys, I have been doing this pet parenting thing all wrong {hangs head in shame}. Here are the things pups hate that we do, according to the article:

// Using words more than body language.* This is my biggest offense. I talk to my dogs CONSTANTLY. I sing to them, I chat them up and sometimes we have conversations, though mostly they are just really good listeners. The article said that dogs really don't understand the human language outside of a few words {although border collies apparently have been known to learn hundreds of words}, so they prefer body language.

// Hugs.* This is my second biggest offense. I just love my puppies so much, and they are just so damn cute that they deserve all my love in the form of songs and hugs. Apparently, dogs hate both of those things. Though somehow, I think my girls are coming around to beauty of a heartwarming hug, or at least they tolerate/humor me for a few seconds.

// Petting a dog's face or patting her head.* I am just striking out here. I pet my girls' faces all the time. I even give them kisses on their faces and heads. Man, they are really good at tolerating my advances.

// Walking up to a strange dog and looking her in the eyes. This was something we learned during the dog training classes we took Kilah to as a puppy. Looking into their eyes can be a sign of aggression and provoke or scare the dog. If I am around a new dog, I typically allow them to smell me first and let them decide whether they will allow me to interact with them. I never force a new dog to interact with me. And I never let strange people interact with my dogs either, or I coach new people on how to interact with my dogs, so that it remains safe for both the human and my pup.

// Not providing structure and rules.* Kilah had the luxury of puppy classes when she was young, so Kilah is extremely well mannered, though she had a bout of nervous chewing for a few years. Moxyn has baby-of-the-family issues. She knows the rules, she just sometimes chooses to ignore them. And she's too cute {read: I'm too big of a push over} to stop her from jumping up on the bed. I mean, she lays her head on the pillow like a human sometimes and it's THE CUTEST! But for the most part, our dogs are well behaved. They tend to bark, sometimes at air, but they really are good dogs. I do think that Shawn and I also keep them on a fairly regular schedule, though I'd like to do a better job of walking them around the same time each evening to help them release some of the energy they've been "on the charger" all day, as Shawn and I like to say.

// Forcing your dog to interact with dogs or people she doesn't like. Our dog, Kilah, is scared of almost everything. Moxyn is outgoing but sometimes needs to warm up a little first. Since putting Kilah through two puppy classes to address her extreme shyness, we learned to never make our dogs interact with other dogs, and especially other people, they do not like. Our dogs are very sweet pups, but they get skittish around unfamiliar people and animals, and we don't like to stress them out anymore. Again, Moxyn warms up quickly, but Kilah does not. She is much better than she was when she was younger, but chances are, if you're coming to our house for the first time, or even the seventh time, you may not even realize we actually have two dogs because you won't be seeing much of Kilah. 

// Going for walks without opportunity to explore and smell. I heard somewhere a few years ago that it's not my walk, it's my pup's walk. So since then, I have let my dogs drag me all over the place, within reason, to sniff and mark their territory. The only things I don't like them to sniff are pine trees. I heard that's where ticks like to hang out. I have no idea if that's true, but I still hurry my dogs along if they head for a pine tree. This isn't to say that I don't hurry my dogs along on walks every once in a while, especially if it's freezing cold, raining, we're avoiding another dog or we're pressed for time. But I am conscious on our walks to allow my dogs to have adequate sniffing time. 

// Keeping a tight leash, literally. My dogs pull on the leash, especially at the beginning of a walk because they are so excited. But I do not make it a habit to keep the leash tight. I let them roam around as we walk, and for the most part {unless they see another dog}, the leash stays pretty lax throughout our walks.

// Being tense.* When I was working full time, going to grad school, coaching and doing my grad school internship, I have no doubt that I was tense. And I'm sure my dogs felt it too. Now that I'm done with grad school, I definitely feel a lot better and I have noticed that my dogs seem more relaxed as well.

// Being boring.* OMG, I'm boring! This is the only thing that explains why Moxyn eats my undies, chews up paper, whines for no reason and can be restless sometimes. I've got to remedy this ASAP, for the love of my underwear!

// Teasing. Unless we're playing with the ball and I fake throw it, I do not tease my dogs or other dogs. It's not funny, and it's probably why dogs bite. Stupid humans.

* indicates the mistakes I have made or am making.

You know what mistake I haven't made with my girls? Loving them unconditionally. I would never make that mistake.

What mistakes have you made as a pet parent?


Liz Carroll said...

Oh my gosh! I pat my dog's head too! I already knew Motley hated hugs, but the patting of the head seems to make him happy. Do you think this applies to all dogs?

Kristine said...

Shoot, I make ALL these mistakes. Yet, my dogs don't seem to care so I'm not too worried about it :)

Brianne Bracco said...

Now, if I do tease my pup, I usually let her have what I was teasing her with about .5 seconds later cause I feel so bad. But yeah...I know no boundaries as a dog mom. I'm in her face constantly...petting it, kissing it, and talking to her like she knows exactly what I'm saying.

Niki {Glossy Blonde} said...

I do the first three things all the time! I'm glad my dogs tolerate the hugs! I actually thought they liked them! Because I do. :)

Jamie Vespa said...

Well I am definitely guilty of a few of these. I constantly talk to her and she always gets hugs and face kisses/petting. But that said, I think she gets that it's my way of showing her love in the way that I get that licking me and play bites are her way.

Because of Jackie said...

Love this! I swear, my cat thinks she is my actual child and not a cat at all. She is the best snuggler;)

Beth said...

I had no idea about half of these! I hug my dog and give him head pats and kisses all of the time too! Actually I have the weird dog that will get in our face (in a friendly way, to lick or play) if he wants a kiss or extra loving haha

srjones03 said...

I read this article too and had the same thoughts - oops! Since Cooper has lost his hearing, I've learned to use body language a lot more, and it really does work. I will remember not to pet a dogs head for all future encounters :]

Amanda @ Marry Mint said...

Right there with you on this one! Teasing. Boring. Petting their face. GUILTY as charged! Definitely going to need to keep all of these in the back of my mind.

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mark capp said...

Very good post...well i think writing this kind of article is a tough job.Thanks for your blog.

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