To kick off our new series of "One Question Interview" posts, today’s interview question is answered by Andrea Arden. Stay tuned over the next few days for more answers to the same question.
Question: If you had the opportunity to communicate and teach one concept to all dog owners everywhere, what would it be and why?
Answer from Andrea Arden, Dog Trainer and Author
I would hope to help people understand that we often do a great disservice to our canine companions by "killing with kindness." That is, inadvertently allowing dogs to indulge in behaviors that are ultimately to their long term detriment. Some examples are: over feeding, over coddling (resulting in a dog with fear and/or separation issues), not using tools wisely and kindly (such as a crate and a feeding and watering schedule) to help our dogs become fully housetrained, and allowing a dog to greet them frantically when they return home (and then reprimanding the dog for jumping on visitors).
From my experience, most people feel uncomfortable setting clear rules and boundaries for their dogs because they feel some underlying guilt for an almost endless list of reasons (i.e. Having to leave their dog when they go to work or school, not finding the time to take their dog for as many fun outings as they might like, not having a big enough apartment, etc.).
One of the kindest things you can do for your dog, other than providing them with adequate mental and physical stimulation, great nutrition and veterinary care, and of course much love, is to be a great teacher to them in regards to all they need to know to be able to enjoy their life to the fullest. Teachers of all sorts have to set boundaries to help their students. In the case of our dogs, start with a list of all the ways you imagine your dog might best enjoy his or her life. For example, getting to go for lots of walks, getting to play with visitors in your home, getting to go with you on trips and stay in other people’s homes, getting to play with other animals. Then make a list of how a dog would need to behave in each of these scenarios (for example being housetrained in your home and all other indoor environments, being well socialized with all sorts of people and animals, walking nicely on leash, greeting people by sitting, being calm when left alone, etc.). Then teach him or her everything he or she needs to know to have the best life possible! In this way you are truly being a kind and loving pet parent.
Andrea is a dog trainer and author in New York City. Her training philosophy emphasizes developing a loving, cooperative relationship between you and your dog.
Andrea has written four books including Dog Friendly Dog Training (IDG, 1999), Train Your Dog the Lazy Way (Macmillan, 1998), The Little Book of Dog Tricks (Howell, 2002) and On the Road With Your Pet (Fodor’s, 1998). She is the behavior columnist for The New York Dog magazine, has been the behavior columnist for Dog Fancy magazine and is a contributing writer for numerous other dog magazines.
For more about Andrea, visit andreaarden.com.