A New Leash On Life*

5 Nov

*= annoying pun acknowledged

Hey there, let’s all take a moment to revel in the fact that it’s Friday!!!!

Moment over.  Now it is time to talk about the most obvious Friday topic, dog ownership.  Ok, that’s a stretch.  But if you think about it, I’m sure everyday feels like Friday to our furry friends (ok, I’m still stretching it…).  Anyway, here are a few items that I think the million+ (that is an exact stat by the way) dog owners across the US should consider.  Dogs are wonderful and loyal companions, so it is important to give them the type and amount of attention they deserve.   Read on, and I’ll give you a treat!

Dogs are animals, not children.

I will admit that I have been known to squeal with glee when I see a tiny dog dressed up in a silly hat or a dress.  But all in all, I do not condone dressing dogs.  They aren’t people; it just isn’t natural.  If you live in a winter-heavy climate, I can see the necessity for an extra layer.  So in that case, you may (with my permission) buy a sweater for your dog.  But really try to keep that at a minimum.  The more you dress a dog, the more likely you are to baby talk to it, place it in your purse as an accessory, or spend more money on its wardrobe than your own.  All of these things = not good!   Dogs are cheaper and less intense than having kids, so I do think it is a great way to practice some nurturing skills before starting a family.  Just don’t get the two confused!  Don’t forget you pinky-promised me on that one.

Dogs take time, effort and discipline.

Sure Fido is cute, and his greetings make you feel good, but remember that he needs some effort from you!  A daily walk is a crucial component to dog ownership.  If you don’t have time to do this, don’t get a dog. It just isn’t fair (back to the tough love, I’m liking this role).    Would you want to spend your entire life in your house?  Your dog doesn’t either.  He needs exercise, and unless you want him taking that need out on your furniture legs, take him out for a walk!  Also, if you are going to walk your dog take some time to leash train it.  You walk your dog, don’t let him walk you (believe me, this change in power will make you feel good too).   Dogs actually need us to be in charge.  But it doesn’t take a rolled up newspaper to do it.  Use force ONLY when absolutely necessary. Most dogs will submit to confident voice tones and body language.  As a bonus, if you are the pack leader at home, that confidence will also enter every other part of your life.  (Thanks to Cesar Milan for the basic ideas of this entry – you are the best!)

Incessant barking isn’t good for anyone.

This is nitpicky, but as an apartment dweller I have gotten to the point where I wished I had the capacity to go all Kramer on a dog (but believe me, I will never kidnap your pet and drop it off in the country).  I understand that dogs use barking as a means of communication.  So if they hear a knock on the door or a loud noise outside, they will communicate that to their owners.  But I do not see why a dog should bark ALL DAY.  Don’t they ever get hoarse?  As a dog owner, try to call your dog out for incessant barking.  It may not bother you, but I promise people around you are clinging to their sanity.   When Fido starts going crazy, snap your fingers, shush him or confidently say ‘Hey, I’ve got this’.  After (many) repetitions the crazy barking will get better, and so will your relationship with your neighbors!

I’m sure I’ve left out something.  But I wanted to convey that dog ownership is a rewarding experience that takes some effort from you, the dog owner.   Your darling Fido will thank you for it!!

Here’s your treat!  Good Reader!  Now go have a great weekend!

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