Today I want to talk about our dirty little secrets… as dog owners, dog lovers, dog bloggers, etc. Those things that we all probably share, but rarely admit to others!
I should start by defining myself as a dog owner. While I only practice force-free training methods (so, no intimidation or physical manipulation tactics) I am a strict mama to my pups. I believe that structure brings comfort to our dogs; if they are sure of what is expected of them, they will be happier and more confident. Therefore, I enforce and am a bit of a disciplinarian when it comes to following the rules. At the same time, I adore my dogs as members of my family, and certainly spoil them when appropriate. When they do make the right decisions and respond appropriately to my requests, they are rewarded handsomely. With all of that being said, there are times when I can’t help but smile when certain rules are broken from time to time.
1) Furniture is off-limits
Our dogs know that they are not allowed on the bed. We live on a farm, and so for the dogs to be 100% free from dirt and dust and germies, they would need to be bathed daily. There is no way that I have time for that kind of commitment, so it is easier to require that they not jump up on furniture or bedding. Also, Jonathan has been known to be a bit of a
Nazi stickler when it comes to having a clean house, and dirty dogs on furniture just makes a lot more work for me! Not to mention that the three pups weigh approximately 250 pounds cumulatively! That doesn’t leave much room for their two-legged companions 😉 Nevertheless, inviting them up for an occasional morning snuggle just warms my heart. Gaige, especially, will jump up on the bed and immediately pancake herself onto the mattress… knowing that the sooner she is settled, the more likely that she will be allowed to stay for a while! Tonka, on the other hand, is the classic burrower and expert snuggler. He will scoot his nose under the blankets, crawl under, spin around, and fit himself perfectly against your body, in the ultimate of spooning positions!
2) People Food is for people
Some of you may know that my major in college was Animal Sciences. I chose to focus on companion animal behavior and nutrition, and so I can be a real stickler about maintaining a high-quality diet for our pups. All of our dogs (especially the Georgia-ones) are food-motivated, so we are working diligently to curb begging.
Foster Dad doesn’t always comply 😉 I have to admit, that there is nothing like the wafting smells of a succulent pot roast bathing in the crock pot for the day. I can’t imagine the temptation those poor dogs must feel! So while I would never make people-food a regular addition to their diet, on special occasions, I love to reward our pups with food that truly makes their mouths water. Their waggly tails, prancing feet, and sparkling eyes are all the thanks I need! (And the slobbery kisses are just a little something extra)
3) No Kisses (except from Jonathan!)
Speaking of slobbery kisses, I am not a fan of regular unsolicited licking from dogs. I am a lady, after all! Unless I make my intentions explicitly known, I do not appreciate wet kisses. However, when I’ve had an especially stressful or difficult day, I can’t help but enjoy a few direct expressions of affection from our pups. Nothing says
‘I’m hungry’ ‘ You taste good‘ ‘Feed me’ ‘I love you!’ like a big, wet tongue across your cheek 😉
4) Four on the Floor
Along the lines of unwarranted expressions of emotions, we have worked especially hard to curb jumping, especially from Miss Gia. Because of that, I am careful to never allow her to jump up… I would not want to ever confuse her about what is expected or appropriate. However, Tonka (perfect pooch that he is) has never been much of a jumper, and so I will occasionally pat my chest, and motion for him to give me a ‘hug’. Stinky breath wafting into my face, heavy paws resting on my shoulders, and his full weight leaning against my body… nothing better!
5) Clean dogs = Happy owners
rare occasions that Jonathan will ask if I want to go on a date, it is not uncommon for me to request a location that will enable the pups to be our chaperones. One of my favorite ways to spend my time, is taking the dogs somewhere where we can all be active. Living in Pennsylvania, which is most often overcast and muddy, these outdoor excursions usually include some combination of dirt, water, and/or mud… but usually all three! As I said before, we both enjoy the coziness of a clean and orderly house, so allowing the three dogs to go swimming or roll around in an open field is not a regular occurrence. Gaige, especially, seems to be an expert mud-hunter. However, the unbridled joy and happiness they seem to express from such occasions is more than worthy of the extra elbow-grease I will then have to put into cleaning them, the vehicles, and the house after the fact. While the above statement is true, it is also true in our case that happy dogs = happy owners, and dirty dogs = happy dogs. I think that is what cleaning products and car seat protectors were made for, after all!
Some things that are never okay: rolling in poo, getting in the trash, doggie french kisses, waking us up by jumping on the bed, chewing the sofa, etc.
What are the dirty little secrets, or guilty pleasures, that you share with your pets? Have I missed any? Go ahead, you know the first step to recovery is admittance of your flaws!