I’ve been pet sitting. And learning a lot. And practicing a lot. A couple weeks ago I wrote about how these new ventures are helping me deal with fear and Reggie. I am now beginning to see training and personality (and owners!) in a whole new way.
The range of ages I have seen is from 8 months to 9 years. The range of behavior has been nightmarish to pretty well behaved. Here are some of the lessons I have learned so far in my adventures.
Lesson #1: I am super protective
Ok I already knew this. For a variety of reasons I am always guarding Reggie. I watch him constantly in social situations looking for signs of seizure, discomfort, resource guarding, or anxiety. I am expert at reading my own dog- as any dog owner would be- but I fall short at reading other dogs. For example, Reggie rarely growls. If he does, there’s an issue. As his owner I am so conditioned to this that when another dog growls, as is common in play, I generally overreact and separate them- something that is not necessary. I need to lighten up a little.
Lesson #2: Others are way too lax
I have been amazed by how easy-going other pet parents are. Is that bad? I don’t know. If someone was watching Reggie I would certainly leave them information like where I was, phone numbers, and veterinary information. Of course I would also probably leave a three page outline of Reggie’s food, medicine, walk preferences, bed time, treats, favorite toys, etc. Refer to Lesson #1.
Lesson #3: Training and exercise are optional
Every household thus far does not walk their dog every day. I realize that I am an oddball in this regard, but I strongly believe that I should be the norm. Dogs need exercise, to expend their energy. Every breed is different and has different requirements as well. Training is essential to a happy, healthy dog, and a happy, healthy home. The ultimate tragedy is an untrained dog that gets away from you and meets its demise, or is unsocialized and gets into a fight (or fights) and must be put down because it has no emotional control. I am currently teaching a 130 pound puppy not to jump or nip; if this isn’t curbed as a 170 pound adult dog it will be more than a nuisance.
Lesson #4: I just love this
This is great. I love meeting so many new dogs. Different breeds, personalities, ages. Reggie has met some of them and truly, the interactions have been great. There have been a couple that I would not let Reggie interact with- my gut just said this would not be a good interaction and I’m ok with that. This is probably a better growth experience for me than for Reggie!