Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Was Your Dog Meant To Do?

Every person I know thinks their dog is special in some way.  Some people thing their dog is the smartest dog on Earth, other's think theirs in the dumbest.  Some people think their dog should be in shows, some people just like to show off their dog.  Either way, everybody thinks their dog is special in some way, as it should be.

The problem comes in when you think your dog is destined for a job he/she is not meant to do.  Think of someone who feels their Basset Hound should herd sheep.  Obviously, this would be a bad match.  The one I most often hear, though, is therapy dog.  Everyone wants their dog to be a therapy dog.  The problem is, not all dogs are meant for therapy.

Some dogs will eventually be great at therapy, but should probably wait until they age a few years.  Some dogs should never even get into it.  Personally, I've always wanted Cody to be a therapy dog, and he has the potential to be decent, but he'd never be great.  Actually, I should clarify.  He'd do wonderfully with children, and would hate working with adults.  It's not that he can't follow the commands, it's just that he doesn't enjoy it.  

Another dog I've trained, however, CJ, makes a BEAUTIFUL therapy dog.  All he wants to do is give love and affection.  He thrives on the extra attention he receives.  Therapy work really is his calling.  For Cody, he's just happy being loved by Hans and me. 

So, it's been a little difficult for me.  I'd love for Cody to be a therapy dog.  As a puppy, I used to imagine him entering hospitals and retirement homes and bringing joy to people's faces.  (Actually, he did have a chance to do this somewhat during a visit to Hans' grandma, but that's a different story).  I dreamt of walking him with a therapy dog vest.  However, I had to realize that those were my dreams, not his.  I had to realize that Cody could have cared less about helping other people. 

I could accept that Cody wouldn't make a great therapy dog, but I would not accept him not having any job.  Then, a friend pointed out he already had one.  Cody's job is to train other dogs and to help them overcome any issues they have.  I've seen Cody play with more than one dog who is supposedly dog aggressive.  He is always on his best behavior when we're training, and I like to believe he actually knows what's going on, and that he enjoys being the dog trainer (literally).

Cody isn't the only dog this happens to.  Plenty of trained service dogs don't make the cut for one reason or another.  Plenty of Labs don't like to retrieve.  Plenty of Australian Shepherds are too excited to make actual shepherds.  However, those dogs who don't make service dogs can still be great therapy dogs.  Those Labs who don't retrieve can be great show dogs.  Those Australian Shepherds who don't shepherd can be great at agility.  Every dog has a job.  It just isn't always what you want it to be.  Don't be afraid to really evaluate your dog.  Put your own wants / needs / desires aside, and really figure out what your dog wants.  Does he / she want to do therapy, or agility, or shepherding.  Or, does your dog want to do something else entirely?  When you figure out what your dog wants, you'll be that much closer to having the perfect relationship with your best friend.

No comments:

Post a Comment