Dog News

It is so not about being tired

by Debbie Jacobs

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“A tired dog is a good dog.”

Ugh. Seriously? A good dog is a good dog from the moment they wake up in the morning.

I understand that many dog trainers think they need to dumb down concepts for pet owners and present them in the context of how they will benefit the owner. “Your dog needs to go for walks, and it will make your life easier. A tired dog is a good dog.” Are pet owners really such simpletons that they can’t grasp the notion that dogs need exercise, in whatever form it takes for a particular dog, because they ‘enjoy’ exercise, and that is reason enough for providing them with the opportunity for it? It’s not such a far out notion that they can’t.

cartoon girl tossing frisbee for a dogThere are the physical health benefits of exercise we’ve had drummed into our heads enough in this age of growing waistlines. We’re even beginning to acknowledge the connection between our heads and our bodies and how doing things with our bodies affects our heads. Exercising makes you ‘feel’ good. Even beyond simply feeling good, there is the concept of ‘satisfaction’. Dogs not only enjoy running around and sniffing for things to chase, or discover who wandered through the yard last night, they derive satisfaction from the experience. OK, I haven’t been able to actually ask my dogs if they are satisfied, but given that our brains are similar in many ways, I’m making the leap.

It’s been years since I read Suzanne Clothier’s If A Dog’s Prayer’s Were Answered Bones Would Rain From the Sky, but I remember reading passages and saying to myself, “Yes, yes, yes!” in response to narrative about dogs having preferences. Imagine hooking up with someone (that’s my gender neutral way of saying ‘married’ or ‘making a commitment to’) who loves to dance. You don’t like to dance and not only don’t you go dancing with your partner you prevent them from going dancing themselves. Nice relationship you got going there.

Humans do seem to have the unfortunate habit of making choices which don’t make sense in the long run. We build and buy giant vehicles built for off-road travel when all we ever do is get on the highway and drive to work. We stock our larders with foods made primarily from sugar and fat and struggle to lose weight. We buy hunting or herding dogs and never plan on shooting birds or even looking at sheep.

Some might wonder why they are not successful at saving money when they look at their credit card statement every month and tally their gas expenses, or why the scale never shows dropped pounds, or why their dog never comes when they call them. But I truly believe that most of us can figure it out, and in fact know the answers. The answer in regard to dogs is not always ‘get a different dog’ but to acknowledge that you have a dog with certain preferences and that even if you can’t keep a flock of sheep you can find other activities your dog can enjoy. Dogs are great that way, they, like us, can have varied interests and are usually willing to go along with us when we introduce them to a few of them.

If we force our dogs to look elsewhere for ‘satisfaction’ we can’t blame them for trying to get it. If you won’t give your dog a life and find things they enjoy doing with you, I guess you should remember that ‘a tired dog is a good dog’. (ugh)