Are your expectations of your dog too high?

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An article written by Rebecca Hanlon of Speak Dog

When a toddler keeps grabbing our favourite ornament we put it on a higher shelf. When we have a baby crawling around we keep bleach out of low cupboards or put locks on the door. When dogs chew peoples things or eat out of the bin, they are often told off and the ornament and bin stay in the same place so they can just get told off all over again.

When a child cries we comfort them, we may give them an ice cream so they dont find the thunderstorm so scary. When a dog barks out of fear they often have their lead yanked and are shouted at. If we give them food we are told we are rewarding for bad behaviour. If they cry they are often ignored. Humans make mistakes on a regular basis and tell themselves it’s ok, mistakes happen. If dogs make mistakes they are often called stupid, bad, naughty. Humans never behave appropriately and politely 100% of the time. Dogs are, on the whole, way more polite than people but often get shouted at for not behaving more human.

Humans struggle to change behaviours of their own that they dont like and spend most of there lives seeking ways to manage their emotions and change how they act. Dogs as a species have way less behaviour issues than humans but dogs are expected to change their behaviour in 1 session with a trainer. Humans are one of the most aggressive animals on the planet. They manipulate each other, abuse each other and physically hurt each other regularly. Dogs are way less aggressive than people as a species. You are way more likely to get hurt or killed by another human. Infact it is more likely that a child will get killed by thier own parents than a dog. And yet we muzzle dogs just for the way they look.

No, dogs are not humans and shouldnt be treated as such. But they do feel happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, love, pain. They do think and have a sense of self. New laws are being looked at in Spain to try and change the way we see animals. Spain is often seen to be behind the times in the way they think of animals and sentience. And I agree, these laws are essential in starting to change the way people think.

But I see puppy farms and dogs with awful health issues being bred for the sole purpose of money. I see dogs seen as accessories more than thinking feeling members of the family. I see people putting their material objects way higher up on the list than their dogs welfare. I see people putting hugely high expectations on their dogs and still using punishment to ‘teach’ them.

It is not just one country that needs to reassess the way they look at dogs. We choose to have dogs in our lives. They do not choose to have us. Relationships are not made in Disney land. They can be hard, frustrating, emotional, and require compromise and sacrifice. But dogs deserve more from the human race than they are being given. They need us to see them as they really are and not how the human ego shapes them.

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Ruth Martin

I have been volunteering at APROP since April 2018. You will normally find me there on Tuesday mornings, helping to care for, clean and feed the dogs. In 2019 I adopted Barney, a Podenco from APROP. In fact I have taken a distinct liking to the Podencos and some call me the Pod-Mother! I am also part of the adoptions team the fundraising team and I help by fostering dogs too. Helping animals brings me much joy and happiness into my life.