How many years have you owned a pet dog? How many fur children have you had in your lifetime already? One, two, three or more? With each new fur child your range of knowledge and experience in how to best raise and care for a canine child increases. Or does it?
Having recently invited a new spotty friend into my own home, I’ve been making a conscious effort to see just what is going on in the world of canine care, health, behaviour and all the other little bits and pieces that need to be satisfied to make his doggy world complete. Having already been the lucky mother to 4 other dalmatians before him, it’s easy to just keep doing what I’ve always done. It feels comfortable for me. I don’t have to think about. I can keep feeding the same brand of food. Undertake the same routines and training, and attend to his basic needs such as vaccinations, heartworm prevention and flea/tick control just as I always have done.
All of my previous dogs have led healthy, happy lives, so there was really no particular reason for me to seek out to change anything. Except a few niggling questions I had in my mind. Did one of my dogs Roley need to suffer from the audible cracking of the bones in his elbows from arthritis? Was there really nothing more I could do for his storm phobia? Did my dog Foxy need to battle with cancer twice in her life (which then ultimately claimed her life). Did Bonnie and Epponnee need to struggle with anxiety? Was the traditional method of choker chain obedience training one of the reasons why my dallies never really enjoyed working for me. Were they just “not very smart” as it had been politely put to me at obedience school, or did those training methods just not suit them?
If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get what we’ve always got. A cliche – but oh so true. It’s so comfortable for us to stick with what we know.
We have more information available at the tip of our fingers now thanks to the internet, and yet still people (including myself) continue to do things with our pets that we might have been doing 20 years (or more) ago. We don’t even question it. Despite huge advancements in medicine and behavioural science there are many pet owners (and I’ve been guilty of this too) who continue to plug away doing things the old way, when there might be better options available.
This is not to say we should completely throw out all the old methods. Of course there are many tried and tested methods of training, feeding and basic care that are just as good today as they were 50 years ago. But what I am suggesting is that there are “options”. Perhaps that same brand of dog food you have always fed isn’t still the “best way”. Perhaps your dog isn’t stupid – perhaps you just need to find a training style and teacher that work better for the both of you. Perhaps there actually is “more you can do” for that storm phobia or other behavioural/medical issue. But it all takes effort. And we’re busy. And what we’ve been doing seems to be ok.
I really encourage you to take a look around. There are amazing people doing/learning and discovering amazing things with dogs and often you can find answers to those niggling questions. There is no such thing as a miracle cure or quick fix, but every incremental improvement we can make in the quality of life for our canine companions is totally worth it.