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  • Richard Chan

I am a good owner because l let me dog run around freely all the time.

Lots of dog owners do not understand why their dogs have lots of behavioural problems. Almost all of these people have dogs that were given way too much freedom way too soon.

We keep our babies in cribs, we teach little kids to stay behind their desks, yet many of us somehow feel that it is wrong to restrain the access of a dog since day one.

To a lot of us, how good a dog owner we are is determined by how much freedom we provide for our dogs. We tend to think it is really wrong to keep a dog in a crate.

Actually, how good a dog owner we are is not about how much free roaming we allow our dog now but how much time we will put in to make sure our dog can have as much freedom as possible as soon as possible for the rest of his life.

If we allow our dog to run around the house when he has no idea how to behave and he keeps pottying everywhere and chewing up our furniture, we are teaching this dog all the bad habits that we don't want him to have.

The more he gets to practice these habits, the worse he will become, and the more difficult it would be for us to give him freedom or to even enjoy spending time with him.

If we are willing to do things right, we can have a very well behaved dog that we can trust. Such a dog can have lots of freedom and fun for the rest of his life.

How to get there is all about looking at the big picture and not just follow our heart. Our dogs are not babies or stuffed animals, they are not here solely to provide us with cozy fuzzy feelings.

Not teaching our dogs anything is actually teaching them something - they learn to look at us the way a spoiled child looks at his/her parents, they learn to become bratty, spoiled, rude, and snotty, they learn to ignore and disrespect us, they learn to treat their humans as a vending machine of free treats and affection and nothing else.

A spoiled entitled dog may look cute for a while but once the entitlement gets to a point when the dog says, "make me!", when the dog starts to object with his voice and teeth, when the dog looks at us and say "who are you to tell me what to do?" We have a serious problem.

Many dogs end up in shelters because they simply don't know how to behave properly in our human world. Many of them don't know because no one has shown them. All they have ever been taught was how to scream, growl, bark, and whine in order to have their ways, how to jump, pull and bark to get what they want, how to live in the arms and on the laps on the owners and show aggression to anyone who gets too close, how to growl and even bite whoever tells them "no".

All these terrible and dangerous behaviours can be prevented if we start our relationship with our dog in a rational fashion whereas we treat him like how a teacher would treat the students in her classroom on the first day, We want him to know that he is welcomed but he cannot just make himself at home and do whatever he feels like. There are rules and consequences.

As the dog gets better at behaving himself, we can then open up a bit and offer him more freedom, much like how a teenager can slowly earn more freedom and responsibility as he/she gets into high school and college - but not when it was his/her first day in kindergarten.

Limiting a dog's freedom in the beginning is a responsible thing to do. We will not allow a new employee to go into everyone's office and put his feet on the CEO's desk on his first day, we will not allow a kindergartener to choose which class he wants to go to and when he wants to start and finish the class. Instead, we will teach him all the rules and boundaries first, and we should do so with our new dog.

If we follow this system when we first get a dog, we will have much less problems so we can have a more balanced relationship with our dogs. And our dogs can have lots of freedom and fun.


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