Golden Retrievers Speak: Treat Us Right!

Me:  I thought I would begin this discussion.   I recently came across a Facebook post (If that link doesn’t take you anywhere, it likely has been taken down) about a Golden Retriever owner who is ranting about his dog.  Within the post, he discusses “beating the shit out of him” and threatening to turn him into an “outside dog”.     The owner actually responded to the thread in an attempt to clear things up, which was great and all – but there were still a few not-so-ideal thoughts in his post (claiming he “only” spanked the dog for acting inappropriately)    We will continue the discussion below with my dogs, and go from there.

Josh:   This is a very serious situation.  When you own a dog, you have to understand that even the most well-trained and behaved dog will occasionally do things that will cause you to shake your head.   I used to steal my mommy’s underwear.   I once pooped in her car during a road trip.   As noted in an other post, I got out of the yard on multiple occasions.  I dug holes under fences.   I ripped shirts.   These are things that dogs do, for various reasons.  The key is that if you don’t like a behavior, you need to correct it appropriately.   Remember one basic rule when it comes to dogs:   If you don’t catch us in the act, you may as well just let it go.   We have already forgotten about our bad deed.

Jeter:   I know we often talk about how good I have always been, and it is mostly true.  Mischief has never been my thing, and I have mostly stayed out of trouble.

Alanis:    Just like with Josh, I have my share of stories to tell.    I have chewed drywall, destroyed couch cushions, and stolen socks.

Josh:   If you catch us in the act, a stern “No” can go a long way in teaching us that the behavior is not right.   If we steal your lunch off of the kitchen table (something NONE of us has actually ever done, surprisingly), and you don’t catch us, there are ways you can fix it.  The best way to do it is by setting us up with a bit of temptation.   Essentially, place a piece of food on the kitchen table and walk out of the room (keeping your dog in sight of you).   Once one of us makes a move towards the food, give a stern “Leave it!” command (assuming you have taught us this command).   Eventually, we come to think that you are everywhere and can see us doing everything.   is this method foolproof?  Of course not.  The best way to make sure we never touch your food is by putting it somewhere where we can’t actually get it.   Remember, it is up to you to make the environment safe for us.   If you leave things to fate, you are likely to be disappointed in the overall results.

Jeter:  The “Leave it” command is one of my favorites, and it should be one of the first commands you teach your dog.   Imagine a scenario where you are taking your dogs for a walk and you come across a meal that someone dumped in the road.   The instinct of the dog is to eat the food.   Obviously, you don’t want that – a good command can potentially be life saving.

Alanis:   And it isn’t a very hard command to teach.

Josh:  As for threatening to turn us into outside dogs, there isn’t much worse you can do to our breed than make us outside pets.    Don’t get us wrong – we love to be outside.  We just don’t necessarily want to live outside.  If you don’t want us to have access to certain rooms in the house, close them off.  Use gates.  There is no harm in that – it can actually protect us from ourselves.  Our parents always have the laundry room closed, for example.    Nobody is saying to give us full run of the house .    If there are things in a certain room that you don’t want us to access, close it off – especially when you aren’t home.   There are so many ways to can control situations that are humane and defensible.

Me:   Exactly.  The purpose of this blog is to look at things from the mind of the dog.   I like things to be a bit on the lighter side, but sometimes a more serious topic can come up that needs to be addressed.   I don’t know what the poster above was thinking when he made those remarks, but we should always remember that in the social media age, everything you say is going to be taken in full context.  I hope for the sake of the family and the sake of the dog that nothing awful is going on there, regardless of the tone of the post.   Everyone needs to understand that when you get a dog, it is a commitment to keep them safe and happy.   It is a commitment that if you want a good canine citizen that you will need to work at it.   If you go down the path of spanking or hitting your dog, you are doing nothing more than raising a dog to be frightened.   And a frightened dog is a dog that can go from the sweetest, most friendly dog in the world to a dog that can bite you.   If you think spanking is teaching them a lesson, you are absolutely wrong.   Enforce the behaviors you don’t want your dog doing by working with them to correct the behavior in a way that dogs will actually understand.

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