Working with and owning a dog is not something that should be undertaken lightly. When you choose to allow a dog into your life, you are agreeing to make a commitment to not only love and take care of the canine, but also to provide it with a disciplined lifestyle. The truth is that dogs need and even crave discipline, and if you’re unable or unwilling to provide discipline, you and your dog will both feel unhappy and unsatisfied with the relationship.
For example, when training a dog, simple things such as your tone of voice can make all of the difference. While humans are able to communicate with and comprehend language and even individual words, dogs rely more on the tone and approach of human language. In the wild, dogs perceive lower tones, such as growling, as a threat. This is then translated in the human relationship as a challenge from a much larger creature. Higher toners, such as praise given by a human, are perceived as more positive.
As such, you need to keep in mind that it isn’t so much what you say, but how you say it when attempting to instill discipline in your dog. Responding to bad behavior needs to be immediate and consistent, and while you need to use low tones, you should not become overly aggressive or your dog will simply learn to fear you. Conversely, if you refuse to speak to your dog in anything but a higher pitch or tone, your dog will learn that it can walk all over you, meaning it will not learn discipline and it will never find contentment.
Before you even consider the commitment that comes along with training a dog, you need to also think about whether you are even ready to own a dog. Are you able to spend adequate time caring for a dog? Do you have the financial resources available to provide for food, shelter and medical care? Will you be able to provide the space necessary for a dog to exercise and remain healthy? Do you plan to provide companionship through other family members, other dogs or just yourself? The answers to all of these questions and more can mean the difference between providing an enjoyable life for your dog and developing a meaningful relationship or both you and your dog finding yourselves miserable.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you, as a dog owner, will need to follow a certain code of conduct with your dog outside of your home. For example, you need to understand that cleaning up after your dog when he or she is taken out for walks is imperative to the health of your community. Likewise, you need to remember that not everyone wants to be around your dog like you do, so keep him or her out of public areas in which dogs are unwelcome. You should also research leash laws in your community and abide by them, and even if no such laws exist, you need to be mindful of your dog’s location at all times to prevent accidents, including bites and injuries due to vehicles.
As mentioned, dog ownership is a large undertaking, so you need to take some serious time to think about your ability to provide dedicated attention, affection and discipline. Training a dog takes time, and bonding with a dog takes time as well. Even if it seems as though a new dog will latch onto you quickly, the bond of trust needs to be fostered over the course of months or even years, so you need to be ready to weather the storm, especially if dealing with a neglected or abused dog. By doing your research and understanding exactly what you’re getting yourself into before undertaking dog ownership, you and your canine friend are more likely to develop a lasting, happy and meaningful relationship.