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Do you believe if your dog obeyed you, he wouldn’t love you as much?

I used to!

I once believed that obedience was equal to submission and domination, that training would not be enjoyable for the dog or for me. That an obedient dog was a dog cowed and miserable, afraid to disobey.

As a child, I dreamt of being able to communicate with my dog, I wanted to speak dog. Back then, my hope was to be a real life doctor Dolittle, I didn’t know there was any other way of speaking dog or horse, other than the made up story version I had seen on the big screen.

As I grew to be a young woman, I, like many people thought the only way to get this connection and love from a dog was if I gave enough love to my animals they would give as much back to me. The only problem was my idea of love was based on what I wanted to feel loved! Which was to give time, attention, food, cuddles and make it easy to be around me, that is not asking much of them, letting them please themselves. Somehow I expected this would come back as love, loyalty and somehow closeness, that is they would give me back what I wanted. I was disappointed a lot of the time.

The reality of this is I had no idea of what an animal needs to feel loved and secure. That if an animal does as it wants, it will revert to feral behaviour and worse, in society we cannot accept a domestic animal behaving in this feral way, it will lead to heartbreak. Even in the wild the dog in a pack will have to conform to pack law, they are pretty unlikely to attack another dog in their pack, if they did they would likely be expelled from the pack.

The worst heartaches and disappointments I have experienced from mine and other people’s dogs have been the result of forgetting that the dog is first and foremost an animal, it isn’t their fault but ours. When a dog attacks, kills, bites, hurts people or other animals he is telling us he does not understand the rules of living in our society. That can only be our fault for not being clear from the start, treating them like cuddly toys, indulging them with every imaginable luxury, much as I did once, we cannot win their love by giving them what we would like if we were a dog. Truly loving our dogs means some sacrifice from us, learning what they truly need to be well balanced welcome members of our society, that may mean a few less toys, a few less kisses and instead a few more rules, more guidance, more effort from us. Training a dog can truly be fun, I can vouch that it really can lead to the connection and communication we all crave, and once established we can then indulge ourselves more, remember it is us that wants all the cuddles and kisses!

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