By Tracie Korol
The last few decades have seen tremendous interest in the science of dogs. There is now an impressive body of scientific knowledge that can tell us a great deal about our canine companions. But how much of it is really important to the average dog owner? After all, is it important to know how many scent receptors our particular breed has? To know they can scent something on the other side of town is enough for most of us.
But if you asked your dog, there are a few things he would want you to know. Just a few small but important things that could change the way you think about and interact with your Best Friend. If dogs could talk with us, what would they want us to know? I think they might say something like this …
I Want To Work With You: When you brought me home, we both signed the contract. I can’t eat, drink, poop or go outside without you. You’re good enough to share your house with me and you’re my main source of social time and companionship. Because of what I get out of this relationship, there’s something I want you to know — I want to work with you!
Before you scream at me for missing a command, take a sec to think about what might be wrong with me that would cause me to goof up. We don’t speak your language, remember. We’re a whole different species. And you’ll forgive me for saying so but you guys aren’t exactly consistent with your messages. Sometimes you ask me to sit and give me a cookie and other times you make me sit because you are upset with me. Please do your best to show me what you want without getting weird. It works better that way.
I Don’t Hold Grudges: Get it — we dogs don’t sit and stew over things like you humans do. We’ve got a lot going on in our worlds and it comes at us pretty fast, sometimes. We don’t really have the time or the brain power to remember and worry over what you did last week to upset us. We move on. Oh, sure, we remember the big things. We know the scary place with the big dog that barks so we can avoid it. We know that you get pissy if we use the rug in the bedroom for “business.” We even recognize that tone of voice or that body posture you get when you are upset with us. But if I didn’t get to go for that car ride with you yesterday, well that’s just over and done with as far as I’m concerned.
We know that you humans tend to hang on to that stuff. And I’m really sorry that I rooted around in the garbage (again) but I’ve moved on. So it’s confusing to me if you still act all mad at me a whole week later. I didn’t do anything wrong today, see? Maybe if we could get past that particular incident and focus on what’s happening now it would be easier on both of us.
I Need A Life Too: You humans are pretty terrific. With your thumbs, and all, I mean it. The balls and squeakies and the bones are fabulous. We love going for walks with you and checking the dog email at the fire hydrant down the street. It’s fantastic when we get to play together. You’ve invented so many fun games to play. But, you know, sometimes we need to do stuff on our own.
Maybe it’s a smell on the breeze, maybe it’s a new dog at the park, maybe sometimes we just get tired and sometimes we just need a break. Just because I want to go and have a sniff for a little bit doesn’t mean I don’t want to hang out with you ever again. Sometimes a dog just needs to do a bit of doggy stuff like dig up a varmint or get a little dirty. Can we just get a minute without you getting all nuts about it?
And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to go out for a run once and a while, OK? I love strolling around the block with you but I’d really like to work up a sweat. It’s good for my heart, you know. I like playing with other dogs, too. I had brothers and sisters when I was little, remember? So I wouldn’t mind a little “dog time” every once in a while.
Maybe if we keep these three things in mind, we can enjoy our Best Friends more. If we treated them like they were eager and willing, maybe we could be better teachers. If we accepted that they forgive us and move on, maybe we could be more forgiving of their mistakes, too. And maybe if we gave them a little time to just be dogs, they would be happier companions.