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Loving Your Dog is the Easy Bit – Training Your Dog Tangibly Shows That Love

ActionsThere’s a petition circulating at this time to: “Punish Florida deputy that SHOT family dog after trespassing on property!”

It seems that the property was posted as having dogs and the deputy either in his haste missed the sign or felt professionally required to prioritize his actions and felt that trespass was for the greater good. I don’t really know. What the video evidence shows is him being charged by two Rottweilers one of which he shot and killed. For me what resonated in the story was where the dog owner who it seems witnessed the tragic event was quoted as saying (on tape), “‘He came right to you, but did not hurt you”. I watched the video and how far the shot dog would have gone is debatable but the point of this post isn’t about the deputy’s responsibilities and actions but to illustrate a point that has bounced around the back of my head for a while and that is what constitutes good and responsible dog ownership.

I have no doubt that the dog owner in this story “loves” her dogs. I have no doubt that however ugly some of their comments that those signing the petition consider themselves “dog lovers.” The problem I have is that loving dogs is for the most part a default behaviour for most people. It is in itself easy. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the deputy fancies himself a dog lover as does most of the department members he is a member of. The problem I have is that this tragedy would have been averted if she had simply recalled her dogs when she witnessed them charging a uniformed police officer. They were Rottweilers, a breed quite amendable to learning a “no matter what” recall. Something, one might argue should be a condition of ownership.

Why, if she witnessed the event, did she not recall her dogs? My guess is she probably did and if her dogs are like the vast majority of those in North America they had at best a conditional understanding of what “Come” means – and more likely no idea at all.

Setting aside this event as anything other than an opportunity to highlight the point that loving one’s dog is easy but that loving them enough to invest the effort to actually train them is quite another, how many dogs in North America are incredibly well loved but never the less live out their lives under a form of house arrest because they can’t (forget everything else) heel, stay or come – no matter what? Spending time in the “yard” is not an outing. A walk around the block is not exercise and its value as a stimulant is questionable considering the drag/lunge-fest that so many owners endure . Even occasional trips to the dog park which aren’t an option for many dogs have become as much a necessity for the ‘I love but didn’t train my dog’ dog owner who must equate a tired dog with a “trained” dog.

How many more places would dogs be able to go with their owners if we took the concept of companion dog obedience much more seriously? How many more opportunities for dog loving dog owners to share their lives with their dogs?

I wonder how many of those people that signed that petition demanding the Florida deputy be “punished” have gone beyond the effortlessness of “loving” their dog and invested the time and effort to teach their own dog(s) to simply come when called? Not only would this result in their dogs being able to go more places and enjoy more of what life has to offer it may well save their lives in their own front and back yards.

Unless those dog loving dog owners, signing this latest petition of outrage have dogs that recall reliably, the meaningful action would would not be to sign a questionable petition. It would be to show you love your dog by providing – real world training/life skills.

– John Wade

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