Don't Let Your Dog Skills Convince You That You Don't Do Enough!
Do you sometimes consider yourself a dog guardian who is lacking?
Do you think you don't do enough with your dog?
Are you a dog professional?
Loving dogs and being a dog professional can be a bit of a guilt trigger, simply because we know so much. Our newsfeeds are packed with other dog pros doing enrichment, search, tracking, hoopers, coaching and so on, and so on some more. It’s easy to think our own dogs miss out, and in creeps the guilt. In addition, if we rescue dogs, we usually have more than one, so we see someone with their one dog going to all-sorts of events and activities, whilst it’s not practical or advisable to take our gaggle of beasties further than an empty field or beach… and in creeps the guilt.
The general story for domestic dogs at the moment is amazing, they are in the eyes of science and we are constantly learning more and more about their emotions, needs and how to make their lives better. What brilliant times we live in! If you’re like me though, this knowledge can lead to something a little more sinister. A voice in the ever-nagging monkey mind that says, “you don’t do enough with them, for them and It would be kinder to do more with them". The voice that questions what they would prefer, the idea that they are a prisoner with poor choice and a captive life. The voice that says, “spend more time, do more things, feed better food, coach more, look how much enrichment that dog on Facebook has” and on and on.
Our eyes as dog knowers, as dog people, are open wider to dog needs than many others. Wide eyes, they can trigger a wild mind and we can easily convince ourselves that we don’t do enough. If we listen to that wild monkey mind, we can easily try to fit more and more into our dog’s days, making them expect more and creating a self-pressure to act, to teach, to play. Even when our dogs would rather be relaxing.
So, here’s a question. Ask yourself what your dog or dogs’ life was like yesterday. Did they have good food, a comfy bed, the option to practice natural behaviour such as foraging or sniffing? Did they get exercise, play, care? Were they rested when you rested? Most importantly, did you do all that and still give yourself a hard time about whether you did enough?
Here’s another question, does your dog live with someone who has put in the effort to really learn their language? To read dog books and use the knowledge gained from them? Does your dog live with someone who doesn’t consider dog behaviour without considering that dog's feelings? Someone who researches dog food before feeding it? Does your dog live with someone who has so much love for them that they not only want to do their very best for that dog but for other dogs too? Yes? Well then, your dog is a very lucky dog indeed.
Perhaps it’s ourselves we need to be a bit kinder to?
If this resonates - Take a look at my book The Dog Professional's Survival Guide