How to Discipline Without Being Angry. You can correct behavior without losing your temper. I've had to learn the art of expressing disapproval and showing my dogs what proper behavior is. I didn't know how to do that unless I was mad or angry - which is true, I think, of many people. I've learned that it works best when you show what you want and stay calm. And I've found it works best with people, too!
Enjoying the Simple Things. How to stop and smell the roses. Waiting while my dogs feel the need to sniff every blade of grass has made me slow down enough to pay attention myself. Dew on grass is beautiful. Sunlight on leaves is beautiful. Standing still long enough to notice birds is beautiful. Feeling air on your skin and smelling the breeze -- these are all beautiful things.
The Joy of Walking No Matter What the Weather Is Like. Nature is beautiful come rain or shine. When you've got two very active dogs, going out for long trips to the park or long walk is a requirement - there is no choice. And I've learned that getting soaking wet can be fun! Being cold is survivable and that going for a nice brisk walk when it's freezing feels really good.
Bribery Works Best! Getting a dog to do what you want is more fun with a bribe. My border collie mix is WIFFM dog (What's In It For Me) in a big way. This is a dog who can never be trained through force - she just will not go there. But make the prize big - and she will do absolutely anything you want. And it doesn't have to be a big prize -- praise and a pet makes her world sing. And it's so much more fun for both of us!
Appreciating the Differences. You can be really, really different and still get along. Watching dogs play is a constant learning. Have you ever watched a 225 pound English Mastiff play with a 10 pound Minpin? Or a determined Australian Shepherd try to herd a focused lab who only want to retrieve? I love how dogs find ways to be with each other - and they just don't mind if anyone is different.
Patience. Dogs learn differently than people and their priorities are very, very different. I've had to learn patience with both them and myself as I figured out what made them tick, what motivates them, and what they care about.
Seeing With Different Eyes. Learning to see from a dog's perspective gives you a completely different view of the world. I've learned to watch for squirrels and running cats and notice things about the ground under my feet in ways I completely took for granted before. They've taught me to see details and to sniff the air. It's a good set of skills to have for so many reasons!
I have always loved animals and have been given the gift of being loved back by them. Seven years ago, I adopted an 8-month-old puppy who was starved and mistreated from a local shelter. In learning about … more