The Things Dog Owners Say That Make This Trainer Crazy

“He gets plenty of exercise in the backyard.”

Most dogs do not get even a fraction of the amount of exercise their owners assume they get — or that they need — in the yard. Instead of running and playing, your dog is more likely to saunter around a little before lying down in the grass or waiting patiently by the door. Your backyard also does not provide the essential environmental stimuli needed to keep your dog’s social and investigatory needs satisfied. In other words, there aren’t enough things to see and hear and smell. Take your dog on a real walk, visit the dog park or participate in other activities, like agility or fly ball, to provide both the physical activity and mental challenge he requires.

“He’s fine in the yard by himself.”

Leaving your dog in the yard, possibly barking his heart out for hours on end, doesn’t accomplish anything other than annoying the neighbors. In fact, it can put your dog in a potentially dangerous situation. He probably isn’t entertaining himself; he can be upset and bored, and may take his frustrations out on anyone who gets too close — including the neighbors or their kids. That invisible fence you’re relying on to keep your dog in the yard doesn’t keep animals and neighbor kids out, which can lead to disaster. And if your dog wants out badly enough, he can escape. Chaining your dog is an even worse option; your dog may be even more frustrated and upset, and may be more primed to attack anyone who approaches him. If your dog shows concerning behavior when out in a fenced area, supervise him while he's outside and then take him back inside where he can spend time with your human family rather than leaving him alone in the yard.

“The dog doesn’t mind when the baby plays with him — and it’s cute!”

Your aren’t doing your dog or your child any favors by allowing this. Hugs and kisses might be cute to people, but to a dog, they can be threatening. Your dog shouldn’t have to tolerate being pinched, grabbed, poked, stood on, climbed over and cornered by your child, nor should he be blamed if this behavior ends in a bite. It’s important that you allow only positive, non-stressful interactions between your child and the dog, and that you always supervise any time the two spend together. It is also crucial that you teach your child the right way to interact with your dog, because she will treat other dogs the same way — and if she is allowed to poke and pull at your pet, she may do the same to someone else’s dog and wind up getting bitten.

Phew, I’m done. My load is lightened — I’ve said what I’ve needed to say. I hope you feel inspired to make a change and do better for your dog. Can I get an amen?

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