“Equal,” that’s all any dog wants to be. They don’t want to be placed on a pedestal and treated like royalty nor do they want to be treated like a beast. “A dog is only a perfect human” (says Stephen King) and I think he has the right idea. They just want to be one of the gang and hang out, tag along, and yuck it up with the rest of us. Here are some “dos” and “don’ts” that will make your dog proud of you and brag about you to the other dogs when you’re not around.
First, allow dogs to love you. More often than not this will come in the form of wet kisses that will rival Grandmas, drive-through carwashes, and quite possibly the Atlantic Ocean. Dogs are blessedly ignorant of germs so when they offer you a kiss not only are they extending love, but they believe they’re actually grooming you, cleaning you, and making you presentable to the general public while remarking to themselves how cute you look. It’s one of the highest compliments any being can bestow upon another. Accept this graciously (and go wash your face later.) It’s been said a dog’s mouth is cleaner than our own mouth, but how do “they” know where that tongue has been? You can’t believe everything you hear.
Never underestimate their I.Q. People come in all varieties of smart and dumb and dogs are no different. Their intelligence works the same way as ours so look at this realistically; there’s “overlappage” and some dogs, contrary to the general consensus, are smarter than some people. As smart as they are, dogs will, however, floss when pigs fly. The ones that are in the upper range of the Intelligence Quotient will never flaunt, taunt, shame, or brag about this, but merely accept us as the inferior beings that we are. Dogs are incapable of judging people. They simply love us all regardless of our station in life. Some dogs even enter the realm of genius and can “think outside the bowl” but still see us as an equal.
Some dogs may be a little confused. In fact, it’s entirely possible man’s best friend is the most confused animal on the planet. They’re just smart enough to see the reasoning behind most actions, but the end result of this action can be far beyond their scope. Example: Dog observes human picking up dog poop after the elimination process is completed, which makes beautiful sense, but then they can’t help but notice we toss a perfectly good poop into the dumpster, which makes no sense whatsoever. Confusion sets in. Sometimes mass confusion.
Be the leader, not the follower. Ever watch “The Dog Whisperer” on TV? It’s obvious Caesar is the instructor, but exactly who is the student here? Man or dog? Who’s he really training? Poor doggy attitudes stem from not being treated as an equal, but as royalty or a guest. You can’t boss a king around can you? Watch the dogs try to conceal a smile as Caesar reprimands the owners with bad habits. I’ve seen Basenjis actually wink into the camera at this point.
Have fun. Play games. You think dogs care about income tax? And be a sport- let them win sometimes. Let the stick slip out of your hand on purpose and play it up a little. Act disappointed. Dogs see this and react to it in a big way.
Act as if you don’t see their rook about to take your queen. If you really want to make their day, chase after them when they have the ball or stick in their mouth. If you’re playing with a small dog, feign being uncoordinated and let them slip through your fingers. If you have a Greyhound and there’s no way on God’s earth you could even touch his tail, but chase after anyway. Scream and make noise too. Dogs love this and it makes them feel important. Try the `ole “fake fall” and when they double back to see if you’re hurt, jump up and run after them. Everything’s fair in tag and it’s most likely a game dogs invented. Cheat!
Avoid the word “stay.” Yeah, I know it’s a necessary ingredient in life, but to a dog it’s a four-letter word meaning “You can’t come with me. I don’t want your company.” There are times when this is just plain unavoidable, but do your best to refrain from using the “S word.” Put yourself in their position. If you must part trails temporarily, bring back a reward- a biscuit, a piece of chicken… one of those beef or hog byproducts they creatively shape into a slipper or such.
The 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution proclaims “Dog Freedom and Canine Equality.” This movement started in Berkeley, California, no doubt and has been working its way east for several years now. Many apartments allow dogs now and some day we may see dog ownership as “mandatory.”
Take your best friend with you. One of a dog’s greatest thrills in life is hanging his head out the window at 60 MPH and no dog should be denied this. Meeting another dog and exploring their scent from end to end, literally, is right up there with running after a thrown ball or stick but when it comes to the open road there’s no bigger thrill than a window rolled partially down. (But never compromise your pal’s safety – we all understand this.)