Well Christmas has come and gone, but, if you are lucky, the holiday celebrations are continuing.
I have been fortunate enough to be invited to some great Christmas parties this year, also to be part of some lovely smaller gatherings with family and friends.
The dogs, Oscar and Minnie, have been invited to almost every one! (The list of benefits of training well behaved dogs is endless.) But this isn’t an entry about how important it is to train your dog. It’s an entry about how important it is to train adults and children about the correct way of approaching a dog.
During one of the Christmas parties I asked my dogs to drop in the corner of the garden so they would be out of the way. I was happily chatting to friends I hadn’t seen since last years Christmas party when my husband grabbed me by the arm, pointed to the dogs and asked if he should intervene.
What I witnessed was surprising, in a are-people-really-that-stupid? type of surprising.
A woman had walked over to Minnie with her toddler and was pushing the toddler into Minnie’s face. Neither toddler, nor Minnie were that impressed with the forced introduction. Minnie was edging away, trying her best to maintain the drop command and crawl to safety at the same time. Toddler was pushing at Minnie’s face to create some distance. Out of the three of them, it was only the adult who couldn’t see that this situation wasn’t a good idea.
My husband released Minnie from her drop and gave a false smile to the mother. Minnie ran away to a safer part of the garden. The mother, clueless as ever, walked the toddler away, saying ‘Wasn’t she a nice doggy!’
My husband and I just glanced at each other - we knew what the other was thinking… “Who walks a child up to a Ridgeback cross Doberman without asking the owner first!?!”
I knew Minnie is usually fine with children (it’s her job to be fine with children, after all), but the mother didn’t know that - she had never met Minnie before in her life!
So I was prompted to put a list of common sense do’s and do not’s when it comes to approaching a dog.
Here they are...
When approaching a dog
That’s about it. All common sense. But, as Voltaire once put it “Common sense is not so common.”
And, finally, my last bit of advice for getting through the Silly Season -
Pat the dogs (safely). Drink good wine. Enjoy the parties.
On the theme of being able to take your dog anywhere, my husband and I were invited to a beautiful wedding a few weeks ago where the bride’s dog’s were her ring bearers.
The ceremony was set outside in a fern lined garden. All the guests were gathered at the bottom of a gentle slope. The beautiful bride walked down the white pebbled path and was given away by her beaming father.
As I stood watching a couple I know very well, begin the the most important ceremony of their lives, I felt something was missing.
I have known Heidi and Luke for a little while now. Heidi and I used to work together, training dogs. At one time, we even looked into starting a dog training business together. Our training philosophy is very similar. We constantly amaze each other with the identical approaches we take when it comes to high level behavioural rehabilitation issues with dogs.
Anyway, as I was watching my friend and highly respected dog trainer get married, I felt something, or a set of someone's were missing. Her dogs!
We both train under the ideology that your dogs represent your method. Owning happy, well behaved dogs should show the world your worth as a dog trainer. Snickers and Bailey have been on many exciting adventures with Heidi and it didn't seem right that on an adventure such as this, her dogs wouldn't be witnesses.
Heidi, however, had already thought of this. As the celebrant asked for the rings all went quiet. A concerned moment passed and Heidi called out.
Both the dogs came flying around the corner and down the garden path. They never broke their focus. As the guests were excitedly taking photos and cooing as one, the dogs ran passed the crowd, straight to Heidi and Luke, sat at their feet and waited for the next command.
Heidi and Luke were able to retrieve the rings from their hairy ring bearers, take some wonderfully unique photos and continue the ceremony, now with all their best friends by their side.
The ability to have the dogs at the ceremony without concern didn't happen by accident or even luck. At no point was Heidi and Luke crossing their fingers and hoping like hell that the dogs wouldn't run around that corner and chase after a rabbit in the bushes, or down the damp path and jump up at Heidi’s white dress, muddy paws, slobbery mouths and all.
Her dogs are well trained, under all types of distraction. A wedding was just another distraction for the dogs. Training has changed the lives of all involved in this story. Heidi has found a fitting and interesting career path as a specialist dog trainer, the couple own two great doggy mates who they can take anywhere and everyone and Snickers and Bailey are happy, well adjusted dogs who look at their owners as their leader and can get on with the job of enjoying life - because they are safe in the knowledge Heidi and Luke will always be there to follow.
From Canine Comprehension, a big CONGRATULATIONS to Luke and Heidi on a beautiful wedding we wish you all the happiness in the world!
As a dog trainer, my goal is to help owners understand and train their dogs. So owners and dogs can enjoy a stronger, more reliable relationship. I often try to motivate owners take the time to train their dog because once they do, they have a more reliable dog and a reliable dog means a dog you can take almost anywhere.
There are too many dogs who spend their lifetimes locked away in the backyard because they are too boisterous, aggressive or frightened to come out into the real world and enjoy it sensibly with their families. Dog’s, who have been bought for the kids jump on them, frighten and hurt them.
Or older people who have bought a dog as a companion, heartbreakingly have to give the dog away because one more act of rough play may mean a broken hip.
This was not the dream.
Owners purchase a dog with the intention of the dog becoming their best friend, their constant companion, someone who will grow with the children or keep them company when they are alone. They do not expect their future best mate to scare the children, chew their furniture, chase the cat and knock down grandma at a family BBQ.
Minnie and Oscar were not the easiest dogs to train. We had our ups and downs. But I am so very glad I stuck with it. My hard work and dedication now means I can take the dogs almost anywhere. We have had adventures with rock climbers in NSW, at family christenings in QLD and even waterfall exploring in VIC. My husband and I have even been invited to go water skiing and stay on a house boat with the dogs this christmas. We can’t wait!!
Another example of the adventures we have had…Bagpipe Competitions (I bet you didn’t expect that one!)
My husband plays for a local Bagpipe Band (they are quite good, actually) and last weekend the dogs and I went along to a Victorian competition to support. We always get lots of people wanting to come up and say hello, but this time we got the attention of the local Newspaper.
So it seems the Canine Coaches, Minnie and Oscar are famous! Take a look at the pictures below.
What adventures have you and your dog been on (or dream of going on)?
Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Contact us here.