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Two Simple Truths About Your Dog

Author: Greg Raub | Date: April 8, 2014

“The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want.

I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you.

There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.”

I was looking for some inspiration today and ran across this quote. (Just try Googling “dog quotes.”). It was attributed to Caroline Knapp. That name didn’t ring a bell. But when I looked her up, I found she is the author of Pack of Two, a book I read several years ago – probably about the time I got my now nearly 13-year-old dog.

I liked the book, but because I know a lot more now than I did back then about canine behavior and training, I can’t say how I might view it if I were to re-read it. What I can tell you is that there is a lot of truth in the quote.

These are the two “truths” that jump out at me:

  • “The dog’s agenda is simple…I want.” We might like to think that our dogs care for us and have feelings for us, but the bottom line is that they are pretty self-centered animals. They are all about what’s in it for them. You think your little dog likes to sit on your lap to keep you company? He’s only doing it because it feels good to him. He may just be using your body heat to keep warm.
  • “No guilt trips or grudges…” Have you ever heard someone say, “My dog knew it was wrong. She was just getting back at me. She had a guilty look.” Plotting revenge is a pretty complicated behavior. Unfortunately, we humans have brains that are capable of that. Fortunately, our dogs do not. That “guilty look” is just your dog reacting to your reaction in that moment. Dogs live in the moment.

Keeping these truths in mind when you’re dealing with any sort of behavioral problem can help keep you on the right track to finding a solution. Ask yourself what the dog is getting out of the bad behavior – what did he find rewarding? Then you can start to address the real cause.


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