There is an immense pressure in society to have a perfect dog. It seems that, for at least a part of society, if your dog doesn’t listen to your every instruction, you’re not a good dog guardian.
It’s pretty wild that complete obedience is the goal when co-habitating and sharing a relationship with another species.
Nevertheless, the pressure is there. So when our dogs do something that we think they shouldn’t, like an alert bark, chasing squirrels, digging, sniffing something for 5 minutes while on walk, we feel like “bad guardians”. Like we don’t have control over the animal we’re supposed to “control”.
Here is the thing: Dogs aren’t robots. They’re dogs. They do dog things. Many of those dog things are behaviours we label as nuisance or weird, but they’re totally normal for a DOG.
I get asked a LOT by clients on how to stop their dog from barking, how to stop them from digging, how to stop them from having zoomies etc. There are times when dog behaviours can be a problem. Non-stop barking is a problem. Digging up flower beds everywhere, is a problem. Zoomies into the road, is a problem. But 90% of the time, these behaviours are not a problem.
When your dog likes to dig in one corner of the yard, have you ever considered letting them have that corner?
When your dog alert barks a couple times to tell you someone is arriving, they’re doing what they were bred to do in most cases. Ever tried letting them do the thing they were bred to do?
If your dog gets the zoomies in your yard because they are so happy, let them.
Sometimes the best option is to do nothing at all and to just let your dog be a dog. Why is this the best option? First, it’s easy and won’t be adding a lot to your training list, but most importantly, in most cases, your dog is fulfilling a need they have. If we don’t let them live like dogs, then what is the point?
Now, some behaviours are a problem and you should reach out to a certified and humane dog trainer. Most of the time, we can find an alternative which allows your dog to meet their needs in a safe way.
But when your dog does something that triggers your anxiety because you feel like some stranger might judge you, ask yourself if it really matters? Is this behaviour dangerous? Is it harmful to anyone or your dog? If it’s not, and it’s harmless (like spending 5 minutes sniffing a hydrant), then I propose you do nothing.
Let your dog be a dog.