Why Don’t I Understand My Dog?

I have encountered folks who have complained to me about their numerous (dog) behavior problems. And interestingly enough, I usually discover that most of the behavioral problems are linked to a common factor. That common factor being pet owners all too often miss crucial, pet communication signals because of their busy lifestyles.

What do I mean, … miss crucial, pet communication signals? While many people love the idea of having animal companions, we also have daily responsibilities such as jobs, attending school, families, and other priorities. And usually, our pets end up last place on life’s totem pole.

Another issue that certainly plays a key factor in how capable we are to understanding our animals’ needs and wants is whether or not we have indoor or outdoor pets. Though indoor pets may pose a little extra patience with regard to training, I highly recommend (as does the Humane Society) keeping pets indoors with family.

What most individuals do not take into account is that once a collective choice is made to adopt an animal, that is precisely what is being done: we are adopting a living, feeling, creature into our lives; thus, we must consciously realize that by adopting an animal, he or she is to become a permanent addition and family member.

We certainly wouldn’t adopt a newborn and place him outside on a chain all day until we returned from work, would we? Therefore, we must always remember to treat our animals just as considerately and compassionately as we would our own children.

Puppies and dogs, like their human toddler counterparts, are innately curious, clumsy and tend to have accidents. When we understand that these commonalties exist and we anticipate this prior to welcoming Rover into our hearts and homes, we are better able to coexist and develop a long-term and loving reciprocal relationship with our animal counterparts.

So step one into understanding our pets is to unconditionally accept them into our homes. Having several, large canine companions, (whom all live indoors with me), I’ve learned to recognize and distinguish types of body language and visual dialogue that speaks volumes. When our dogs live indoors with us, we can interpret the language of love. Not only do we see their personalities unfold before our eyes, we learn to be intuitive to each of our pets’ needs, similar to our own.

From experience, I can literally close my eyes and distinguish each dog’s presence simply by touch and sense. Why? Because by having them alongside me, I’ve learned their individual motions, breathes, sounds and feel. And in turn, they present their comical and goofy sides, their playfulness and their unconditional love for us.

When we invite our dogs into our lives – truly into our lives – we discover a world of fascination, innocence, inspiration, laughter, amusement, and an indescribable love. So how can pet owners learn to better understand their dog’s behavior? Give Beethoven a bath, bring him inside and watch how his character evolves. The more time we spend one-on-one with our dogs, the better we are able to recognize specific traits and how to employ gentle behavior training techniques.

Having seven huge dogs, I’ve come to terms that dogs are one of life’s most precious gifts. They are here for just a little while. When we take time to get to know them individually, we gain more than just a pet; we gain a friend for life.