Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?

In this day and age we came to expect everything to be perfect with money back guarantee. Flawless products, perfect kids, perfect spouses, perfect dogs. And if they don't meet our expectations, we demand our money back. And we keep raising the bar of our expectations.


This is justified when it comes to products. They should perform their function flawlessly and we should expect them exchanged or get our money back.

When it comes to living beings, are our expectations realistic?

Let's face it, we are all messed up by our parents, by our schooling, by our pasts. None of us are perfect. And yet we feel entitled to having people in our lives just the way we want them.



We expect our dogs to be perfect.

And by perfect we mean do only what we want, when we want, and how we want.

How often do we stop and think how far are their lives removed from what is natural to them? How often do we stop and think how little they are actually allowed to be dogs?

Dogs ARE perfect.

Their kind of perfect just doesn't always fit well enough within our lifestyles and our expectations.

Cookie is a perfect dog. She is smart, gentle, friendly, kind, loving, happy to please. We couldn't have found a more fantastic little girl.

And I call her perfect in spite of her not meeting all our expectations right out the door.

Because of he past, she was quite an independent little girl. Since she's been with us, she has learned the feeling of belonging. She now feels like a part of the group, which means that her desire to stay together is taking over her desire to go and have fun on her own. Before, that was all she knew. Having fun only when she chewed through her lead and broke free.

Because in the past she could either do nothing at all or anything she wanted, her impulse control is poor.

At home she learned quickly that being patient gets her things. Outside, though, she wants to chase after anything she moves and gets quite frustrated when she cannot. Cookie is a textbook example of a frustrated greeter. When she gets to greet with everybody, she's perfectly happy. Problem is when she cannot.

I've been working with her daily to my best ability but we've reached a point when I needed controlled set ups and some one-on-one guidance.

Instead of getting mad at Cookie for not being perfect, we enrolled in a Reactive Dog classes.

I want her to get to a point when she realizes that not always being able to do what she wants is OK. Sometimes she can meet the people or dogs and sometimes she cannot. And I want her to be comfortable with that fact.


I searched hard for a good class and with help of my online dog trainer friends, I found one.

Our first class was on Saturday. As much as I was quite nervous going in, I left very pleased with the class, the trainers and with how well Cookie did.

"Cookie is one sweet dog and she’s got tons of potential."
~Norma Jeanne Laurette, Puppy Power

Everybody fell in love with her right away and they were surprised at how well was doing. One thing this reminded me of is that she can be only as good as I am. Once I figure out what the heck to do with myself, she'll have no problem doing what she should be doing.

Dog training is really about people training.

When I saw how easily the trainer got Cookie do what she wanted her to do I felt totally inadequate with my skills. When it was my turn, I felt like I had two hands to handle twenty leashes with twenty dogs at the end of them.

In spite of that, Cookie did really well with me too.

As soon as I get my ducks in a row, we'll do just fine.

Cookie IS a perfect dog. Now I have to try to be a decent trainer.

I need to teach her to live in the world which doesn't make sense to her. World with roads, cars, fences and leashes. World where a dog cannot always just do what makes perfect sense to them doing.

I just hope that Cookie can put up with me.

Do you think you deserve the perfect dog? If you did, you'd  have one.

Related articles:
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Observation Skills Of Dogs  
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It  
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks 

16 comments

  1. All of our dogs have quirks, but they're all perfect to me in so many ways. So we have a whole pack of perfect dogs :)

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  2. It's always about the people training. I continue to work with my dogs. But sometimes, it's the OTHER people who need to be trained. Like the ones who say, "It's ok," when one of my dogs is jumping. No, it isn't ok. And please, please stop encouraging him. In the end, it takes time, consistency--and buckets of patience. Good luck with your perfect dog!

    --Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

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    1. Susan, don't even get me started on the OTHER people! :-)

      Somehow they seem to have the special gift to ALWAYS do the exact opposite, no matter how much one tries to explain things. I have long given up on them doing the right thing.

      Patience I have. Positive reinforcement, I'm good at. Need to perfect my technique with some of the things. Once I get it right, I'm sure Cookie will do just fine.

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  3. Love this! Such a great sentiment!
    And great to hear the class started off well, too!
    Alma is very similar - she's fine when she's off leash and able to go around and sniff and greet at will. It's when she's on leash - and the other dog it too - that she gets anxious and reactive.

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    1. Cookie doesn't even care whether she's on the leash or not, as long as she gets to meet everybody. But sometimes that's not possible - they are too far, going in the wrong direction, the dog isn't friendly ...

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  4. You are so right. It really is about us, not the dog. I'm glad you found a good class!

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    1. I'm very glad too! We had some past experiences with classes and trainers which were less than stellar.

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  5. I think perfect is very different things to different people. I have never wanted a perfectly trained dog. My idea of a perfect dog is a super cuddly lap dog who likes to play indoors and is very affectionate and does well with other dogs. I like t he dog to have good basic obedience, which is of course my responsibility and not my dogs. I dont have a desire to compete with my dog at high levels of obedience so that isnt part of my perfect dog picture. I have purposely chosen companion breeds and I spend a lot of time with them. I wouldnt adopt a cattle dog because I know I dont want a super high energy working breeds. People need to think about what they want and what they can provide.

    I also think it is important htough to remember that dogs are ALL individuals they dont all like the same things. For example, my bulldog Bob is very good with my others dogs. However, he is not good with strange dogs, unless he meets them in our home. I have done several training classes with him and we work on his leash aggression and it is now very in controll. He was VERY well socialied as a pup. However, he will never be the kind of dog that can go to a dog park and be successful and happy in that environment. I accept that about him and its my responsibility to do so.

    Im sure Cookie will do very well and she is lucky to have you


    retro rover

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    1. Yes, you're right, they are all individuals with different preferences. Cookie is very social under any circumstances, as long as she gets to be social.

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  6. My dogs are perfect, of course. But me, well, like you I need more training then the dogs do. Hard to swallow when you recognize that, but I see it in Jack so easily. He's far from perfect, but he wants to be.

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    1. As they say, admitting we have a problem is an important step :-) It's easier to blame things on everybody else. Admitting our own shortcomings is the only way to really change things.

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  7. There is only one perfect dog and every pet parent has it! Haha! Bentley is perfect for me : )

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  8. Sounds like a great class you found! I'm lucky my dog is not reactive, but I think if he were I would also be seeking out someone to help me.

    My dog is far from perfect. He drools a ton. He makes gross throat-clearing gags. He whines when he's excited or nervous. Yet, he's perfect for me!

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    1. Yes, very happy with the class and the trainers. Cookie is fine when she can come up to everybody but goes nuts when she cannot.

      Ha, drooling, huh? I bet JD would take the prize there ;-)

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