What makes our pets so endearing is their sometimes quirky behaviour. There is a reason they behave the way they do.
DOGS have been living with us for thousands of years, possibly as long as 32,000 years, according to some sources.
So it’s not a surprise that Man’s Best Friend has picked up a lot of human culture. However, it’s the canine-centred beliefs that are firmly ingrained in our pets’ minds that make dogs so special.
Dog Belief #1 “You love to be watched.” Dogs are supremely social creatures and there’s nothing better, in their mind, than hanging out together. It’s fun when you’re gardening, relaxing when you’re watching television together but forget trying to convince your pet that you really would like to use the bathroom by yourself.
Dog Belief #2 “You’re always looking to play.” A game of fetch is a blast, and catching Frisbees made for dogs is the bee’s knees. However, your pet is always ready to make anything fun. When you put on your socks, or reach for a towel in the bathroom, you’re clearly ready to play tug-of-war. Are you yelling? It’s because you’re having the best fun ever!
Dog Belief #3 “You need protecting.” You are the most important person in the entire universe, and your pet is convinced you need to be guarded. Among the most persistent enemies are the postman and the dustbin men who come around regularly to test your home defences. You are too dumb to understand what’s going on, but not to worry: your dog will repel invaders by barking and growling. If you’re screaming along, that’s brilliant because your pet knows you finally get it.
Dog Belief #4 “You can’t nap alone.” Comfort comes from being together, right? And there’s always the possibility of that sneaky postman trying to get to you. So clearly a dog’s duty is to be near you when you’re most vulnerable. The bed’s the comfiest place to hang out together but if you insist, your pet will sleep on the floor. Prime position is beside the bed so you won’t be going around by yourself, like trying to use the bathroom alone in the middle of the night.
Dog Belief #5 “If it’s on the floor, it’s mine!” OK, that puppy thing, where your dog chews your shoes, is temporary. However, when you’re eating and you drop something on the floor, then clearly it’s meant for your pet. In fact, all food left on the floor is fair game. This includes those bags you leave in the kitchen after you’ve been to the market and those plates filled with goodies that you put on tables that are at canine eye level. Don’t complain. It’s just how the world works.
Dog Belief #6 “If it makes you happy, I’ll do it while you watch.” Sitting up and begging. Playing dead. Your pet will do all those cute things that make you laugh because it makes you happy. However, the corollary is that Man’s Best Friend will do all those little things that make him happy when you’re not around. Like lie on the sofa and shed fur all over your laundry.
Dog Belief #7 “You love to have your butt sniffed.” There’s nothing more informative than a good sniff and, as you’re the most important person in your pet’s universe, you get the going over, just like any other dog would. It’s friendly fun and your pet loves you dearly. Your friends get to be checked, too. If they squeal because there’s a cold damp nose up their behinds, that’s just added fun and encouragement!
Dog Belief #8 “You deserve to be loved.” It’s got nothing to do with the food bowl. When you adopt a dog, you automatically become the best person in the whole wide world. Your pet wants to be with you all day long, and pines when you’re not around or are too busy. So if you plan to be busy, get your pet a companion dog, just to fill up those lonely times when you can’t be there. Also, when you get home, it’s double love!
YOUR DOG WANTS TO MAKE YOU HAPPY
When you look at the animal kingdom, who do you think is most like us?
Among those who first spring to mind might be the great apes. They recognise themselves in mirrors, can puzzle out problems, use tools and the way they act is often very much like how we act.
However, great apes don’t smile for the same reasons we do and they don’t generally get the point of hanging out together whereas dogs are pretty good at both.
Dogs also pick up on our emotions easily. If you’re happy, a dog will bounce about, full of the joys of life. If you’re sad, a dog may howl along with you.
But as dogs don’t look at the world quite like us, this can cause problems if you’re training one.
The points in the article are light-hearted but they are a way to help you understand and connect. For example, if your pet is barking at intruders, yelling will be seen as barking along. So instead of shouting, put your hand on your pet and say, “Hush now.” When the dog is quiet, dish out praise.
Your pet wants to make you happy. It’s just a matter of understanding how to make that happen. And for your pet to see how you see the world, is as challenging as it is for you to see your pet’s point of view.
So be kind, gentle and understanding. When training, be patient. Don’t hit. Don’t yell. The rewards are worth it.