Puppies. They sure are cute. But one major reason people get a puppy is completely mistaken.
I said it once. You might have said it. You have friends who have said it. "I want a puppy so I can raise it to be exactly the dog I want."
Itâ€™s not our fault we think itâ€™s possible to raise the perfect dog. The publishing industry has been working overtime to make us think so. If you go to the category "dog training" at Amazon.com in March 2013, the first book on the list is Cesar Millanâ€™s How To Raise The Perfect Dog. Other titles include Sophia Yinâ€™s Perfect Puppy In 7 Days, Sam Walkerâ€™s How To Raise the Perfect Puppy, Paul Silasâ€™s Raising The Perfect Puppy ... you get the idea. These authors represent many different philosophies of dog training but thereâ€™s one thing they all seem to agree on: if you raise a puppy right, you get a perfect dog.
I believed this until I got a puppy. I got a puppy because I wanted the perfect dog. I bought books whose philosophies I trusted and I did everything right. Socializing, loving, boundaries, everything.
I love my dog. Heâ€™s a better-behaved, happier dog because I did all those things. But heâ€™s not a perfect dog. Heâ€™s sweet and nervous and jumpy and kind, great with other dogs and skeptical about new people. He turned out to be ... himself.
The "person" check
Nowadays, I use a little reality check when someone makes a claim about dogs: if I put "person" in the sentence in place of "dog," would it make sense? This doesnâ€™t always work, of course, but itâ€™s often helpful. "All dogs of X breed are (aggressive, smart, sweet)" makes no more sense than "All Irish people are (whatever)." "All dogs want dominance" makes no more sense than "All people want dominance." And "How to raise the perfect dog" makes no more sense than "How to raise the perfect child."
Donâ€™t get me wrong. The early development of both dogs and children is very important. There are better ways and worse ways to raise both dogs and children, a…Read more...