Are You Really Your Dog’s Best Friend?

Are You Really Your Dog’s Best Friend?

Dogs have been man’s constant companion for over 15, 000 years and have developed a bond that makes them our closest ally in the animal kingdom. We have trained them to perform all manner of important work, from guiding the blind, to finding lost hikers to detecting contraband.

But perhaps the most important role that dogs perform in our lives is that of companion. It would be impossible for me to imagine my life without my dogs. And millions of people all over the world feel the same about their dogs.

But if humans and dogs are to co-exist in harmony there needs to be a set of rules that we both can live by. We need dogs to curb and alter some of their natural behaviors, like marking territory, territorial aggression and dominance.

Likewise, we have to change the way we act towards dogs. In the past, we have hunted the dog’s ancestor, the wolf, to near extinction, we have thrown dogs into to pits to fight, maim and kill each other, we’ve sent them to do battle with dangerous wild animals, we’ve used them as a food source.

Clearly, these behaviors are not acceptable in a modern, civilized world. Quite obviously these are not behaviors that one directs towards one’s professed ‘best friend’. And while the behaviors above are now rare in the western world, wholesale cruelty against dogs still exists.

Dogs are still chained, beaten and abandoned, millions are still euthanized in shelters every year. Puppy mills still exist to raise unfortunately ill-bred puppies, purely for profit.

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And there are other more subtle forms of abuse too, sometimes by the most well-intentioned of individuals. Failing to exercise your dog in a form of abuse, so is allowing your dog to become obese, and failure to provide proper medical care. Another subtle kind of dog abuse is training, or rather, the lack of it.

It is an accepted fact, that dogs that have been trained are generally calmer, happier and more balanced. Yet few dog owners put in the time and effort needed to train their dogs.

There may be a number of reasons for this. The modern lifestyle places time demands on us all, and it is hard enough to balance work and family, let alone find time for dog training. Yet if you own a dog you must find time, because training is a core responsibility of dog guardianship, and an important one.

Time spent with your dog is never wasted, and if you are concerned that it will cut into the time you spend with your family, you’re looking at it in the wrong way. Your dog is a member of your family, and deserves as much attention as anyone else.

Why not involve your kids in the dog training activities? This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them how they should behave towards dogs and also an opportunity for the dog to learn to respect them.

Besides which, dogs are sociable animals who love to be at the center of family activities.

Just about the worst thing you can do to a dog is to ignore him. Sending a dog to an outdoor kennel where he can hear and see the family activities going on inside, activities he is excluded from, is incredibly cruel. Even independent dog breeds like Huskies crave human company.

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Dog guardianship is one of life’s great joys, but also one that brings with it great responsibility. When you adopt a dog you assume the responsibility to make his life the happiest it can possibly be. You pledge to provide love, companionship, shelter, medical care, exercise and training.

Fulfill these obligations and you will have proven yourself worthy to be called dog’s best friend.