Well, I won’t. I’m a control freak in life, actually. But I have never tried to ‘control’ my dogs as if they were machines. That would mean I’ve failed to guide them well enough. If any of my dogs have behavioural problems we work together and we find a way to deal with them. I motivate, not intimidate. I try to use resources wisely (food, treats, toys, my attention and my time and anything else that my dog wants). My aim is for my dogs to follow me, not hide (themselves or their actions) from me. Success for me means they look for my directions, not away from me.
None of my dogs has ever fulfilled all people’s expectations as to what an obedient dog should be. Ardbeg has always barked loudly when playing, which can be really annoying. Lily is still guarding her resources from other dogs and the cats (not from her humans, though). Other dogs were digging the garden as if looking for the shortest way to New Zealand, herding the family as if we were sheep, climbing furniture, chasing anything that moved…And we’ve always found a way to compromise. Dogs bark, dig, chase, herd their flocks. Humans don’t like it. But then, dogs don’t like being left alone for hours or not having enough physical and mental exercise. To live alongside successfully we need to negotiate, give as well as take.
I find it interesting when people describe their dog using just one characteristic (usually the good old: ‘dominant’, ‘submissive’ duo). I’ve never met a dog that would be pigeonholed that easily. Doing it to dogs is as unfair as doing it to people. A dog’s temperament varies from one individual to another. It also changes within each individual over time. And dogs have emotions, the fact they can’t consciously inspect them doesn’t make them less valid.