Yes that is so true. Dogs do not carry “complicated” feelings of jealousy, spite or evil. Dogs do what works, and what is safe for them. They do not think of the world the same way we do, they just enjoy the moment, and do not carry grudges. So with a world view that is so uncomplicated, what can we do to make them even happier?
Dogs are a different species trying to live in our human world, so as their guardians we have the responsibility to teach them to live in this world safely. This starts the moment the little, cute, fluffy puppy enters our home. The first thing most new puppy parents teach for the new family member is to go toilet outside. Toilet training can be very easy, especially if the breeders have done the grown work. Sometimes there can be “obstacles”, but with supervision and consistency you will succeed.
After toilet training comes the very important part, socialisation! This is the time when we introduce the puppy to the world and all the marvels of it. This can be quite scary, so it is immensely important to take these new experiences at your puppy’s pace, make them positive, and not at any time force interaction. Socialisation needs to include people, animals, places, surfaces, sounds, smells and so on.
Socialisation is also about where you live and if you are going to live in that place for the rest of your dogs life. Why? Well, if you live in the countryside and are happy to stay there for the length of your dogs life, most likely there is no reason to get your dog used to heavy car traffic and the noise of it, traffic lights, big buses etc. Whereas if you do live in the city, it is very important for your dog to be able to cope calmly to all this. But in the city you do not encounter livestock as you would in the countryside. So for the country dog living side by side with all these wonderful cows, bulls, sheep, alpacas, chickens to name but a few, is more important than traffic.
Well what then? We have introduced the big wide world to our new puppy, and he seems quite happy with all the new experiences. Next it is good to teach your dog how to behave in this human world ours in a way we find acceptable. So teaching basic manners of what we expect the dog to do in any upcoming situation is essential. This could be sit and wait before crossing the road, walk nicely on the lead, come when called, be happy to be handled by vet staff, enjoy car rides, and be happy to settle when we need a bit of own time. When teaching behaviours to your dog, you will get what you put in. And please remember dogs are not robots, but living, sentient beings, so even if you have taught them well, mistakes can happen. But like humans, dogs learn throughout their lives. It can be a bit harder to learn the older we and our dogs get, but we are still learning. Be patient, consistent, positive and make it fun for the both of you!
The more work you do with your dog with socialisation and basic manners, the bigger your dogs world will become! The dogs can come with you on holidays, enjoy walks in new wonderful areas, happily join you for a cup of coffee at a cafe and even a walk in a busy market place saying hello to a multitude of new people. A dog that is not socialised and have not been taught how to live in the human world, can be scared of the world. And as a result the world becomes very small: walk in the same area, smelling the same stuff and looking at the same scenery day in and day out. Being worried about the strange looking person walking towards them, about that strange sound, and that awful smell… Not much of a life… So remember, dogs are our link to paradise, but we are their link to the world!