Dog’s Eye View: If wishes were horses
As a child, when I asked my mother for something, usually a dog or a horse, I would preface the request with, “I wish I had a …”
I remember her saying to me, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” I’ve thought about this saying at various times in my life and pondered some of the interpretations it could have.
In subsequent years, I have indeed had dogs and horses as well. The overriding factor that intervened was that I learned how to earn these wishes by work, study and practice. I expanded my knowledge of dogs and their behavior by continuing to stay abreast of current research and the science of learning and behavior change.
I’ve always been a bit eclectic in my choice of dogs. I really wanted to know what made them tick. I have had a Dalmatian, miniature Schnauzer, Siberian huskies, Irish terriers, Welsh corgies, border collies, whippets, a bull terrier and terrier mix. Each one offered an opportunity for growth and helped me walk in the shoes of some of our students.
Over the years, I’ve been presented with some behaviors that were new to me. Occasionally, I would catch myself thinking, “I wish I could take this dog downtown without so much work.” Or, “I wish he was easier-going around other dogs.” My mother’s words would ring in my ears. It’s easy to be drawn into the one-size-fits-all mode of thinking when it comes to dog training.
“Train the dog in front of you” is a saying we have that helps address the “I wish …” impulse. Not only do different breed types have certain tendencies, but individuals within that breed can present their own unique behaviors.
This sound advice sets me back on track. It has helped me to more fully enjoy the dogs in my life and embrace their unique personalities. Am I addressing the needs of my own dog? Is our relationship mutually rich and fulfilling? Am I putting in the effort?
That’s reality. Wishing won’t make it so.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC with over 30 years of experience.
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