Are Dogs Limiting or Liberating?
Do you believe life with dogs is limiting or liberating? Does your dog give you more freedom to do what you want to do? Or, does your dog get in the way of your freedom? Granted, if you are a big world traveler and away from home for long periods of time, a dog may not fit your lifestyle. Other than being a world traveler, does your dog limit your freedom or liberate you to be more confident to achieve your goals, no matter how simple or complex?
Dogs Provide Freedom
I have always been of the mindset that dogs are liberating. However, this sentiment is not true for everyone, including some who are devout dog lovers. Overtime, I have realized that dogs being liberators versus limiters really depends on their level of training and how well your dog can fit into society. If dogs are trained to handle social situations, dogs will liberate you by providing the confidence, encouragement and protection that one can only enjoy when they have a dog. In other words, it depends on if your dog is trained to be a “canine good citizen”, with or without the official certification.
Time for Running
Yesterday’s events really solidified my understanding of the true value of a trained dog. As usual, took my pups out for our daily run in the park. Although I prefer to head out early, especially in the warmer months, sometimes we have to go at less than ideal times. Yesterday was one of these times. We drove up the park/baseball field and immediately noticed something was askew. Cars were packed in the school parking lot and lining the street on a Saturday afternoon. Not to be deterred, we managed to find the only empty spot in the parking lot and headed down to the field.
Take the Challenge
Low and behold, the park and baseball field were jam-packed with people, intermingled with a few leashed dogs. Turns out, we were walking into the spring little league tryouts. Although most people would probably be overwhelmed and go the other way, this was the time I wanted to run with my dogs and didn’t want to go elsewhere or come back another time. So, I looked at the situation as our time to run plus an opportunity to refine some of our social training skills. As any of my dog training clients can attest, I encourage and fully embrace challenging situations to hone dog training skills. That is the only way to improve.
Learning from Experience
Although we were easily able to clock-in our 3-mile jaunt around the baseball field, the experience was enhanced by numerous interactions that were optimal training opportunities. Our full-out runs were intermingled with quick walks through highly congested areas of families watching their little league players tryout for teams. We observed a little girl practicing her two-wheel biking skills and deftly avoided any interruptions in her progress. Several times we stopped at my dogs’s strategically placed water bowl to get a drink and my dogs were subsequently loved on by several children. Although I do not condone children running up to an unfamiliar dog and give a full-body embrace, my dogs are not just extremely tolerant of this behavior, but actually adore these interactions with children and adults. We even had the opportunity to practice “sit stay” in a very crowded environment so that I could gather our few belongings and head home. My dogs were cool as cucumbers but lovable as teddy bears. Perfect behavior that allowed us to enjoy our time on our terms. We were able to go where we wanted, when we wanted and essentially blend into the scene.
Value of Dog Training
Dog training is not just about teaching tricks. It is much more than training dogs to sit, stay or walk on leash without pulling. Dog training is teaching dogs (and their humans) to be able to seamlessly blend into society. Dogs have been part of human lives for thousands of years and are innately wired to be part of our human lives. When dogs are not canine good citizens, it is attributed to either poor breeding or poor training/socialization. Regardless, either one of these deficiencies can be addressed and managed with appropriate training. Dog training in the real world, under perceived stressful conditions, is what effective dog training is all about. You owe it to yourself and your dog. Please contact us if you want to learn more about training your dog to be a canine good citizen so that you can be free to do what you want, when you want with your dog in tow.
For the ❤ of Trained Dogs!
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author, certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville and has over 30 years of dog training and human teaching experience. The Dog’s Perspective is a training philosophy based on how dogs think, the title of the book series and our blog.