Everyone, absolutely everyone will tell you the good things about their dog, but what about all the other stuff, the asshole stuff, the maybe you won’t like me much when you find out what my dog does kind of stuff?
You know, the stuff that is swept under the rug, out of sight, but still crunchy when stepped on to remind you it’s there?!
I cannot tell you how many calls I have received over the years, that from the moment I say hello, I hear nothing but amazing stories about a dog, and how deeply loved and treasured they are, for minutes, lots of minutes. When I finally get a word in and say how lucky to have such a great dog, but why call me if you don’t need my help?, well this is the uncomfortable silent pause, and then I hear about all that is not so good, the stuff, maybe the asshole stuff, or is it?
THE PIECES, PART & PARCEL – The first step is to find the source of the problem, the cause, and it is much like finding the pieces to a puzzle. Before blame, before name calling, before assuming electric shock therapy is necessary, and before paying gadzillions of dollars in diagnostics, there are things to consider.
A management issue
A behavioral misunderstanding
A dog that is over the skill level of the owner
A dog that does not have a stable temperament
A household that lacks understanding
A sick dog
A dog on poor nutrition
A dog that is a good dog but can also be an asshole on occasion?
MANAGEMENT – Management is a must, no wait, meticulous management is a must if you own a dog. Doors, gates, leashes, a working vocabulary, and a 100% understanding that 100% of the time you are 100% responsible for your dog.
BEHAVIOR – Behavior is something a dog does not something a dog has. Behavior is fluid, and ever changing like the tide, and ebb and flow. Your dog cannot have good behavior or have bad behavior. Your dog can do something that is good, or do something that is bad, but those acts are temporary, and again ebb and flow every second , minute, hour, day, month … you get the picture!
WORKING DOGS – Many homes like the idea of having a high powered athletic working dog, maybe for weekend hikes or an ego boost, but living with one 24/7 – 365 is a whole different monkey. Homes that are not equipped mentally, physically, skill wise, and especially time wise, generally have their lives hijacked, right before their eyes.
TEMPERAMENT – Puppies in a litter are like a small village, they can vary in size, markings, instinct, and temperament. A shy puppy does not a bad dog make, the same goes for the ultra in-your-face puppy. While it would be easy to assume that the middle of the road easy-going puppy is the most desirable, it really depends on why a person wants a dog. So the temperament should match the needs, the future job, and the household where the puppy is going to live.
UNDERSTANDING – If a household lacks canine knowledge, whether socially, emotionally, physically, or simply as a relationship with another living being, there is no fertile ground for understanding. This is referred to as a cultural clash of sorts.
HEALTH – If a dog does not feel well they do not act well. From lethargic to reactive and everything in between, unwell symptoms can vary, so finding the cause is the best approach.
NUTRITION – Nourishing a dog is quite different from feeding a dog. If the food is not species appropriate, or high in sugar, or filled with all kinds of words and chemicals you cannot pronounce, just imagine the damage being caused slowly but surely. Nourishing a dog allows the body to function as it was intended by nature, which allows a dog to be at their best.
ASSHOLE – This is where it gets super interesting. The asshole dog is the dog that lacks impulse control. Even when the dog is presented with choices, and encouraged to make the right choice, the dog will choose the most irresistible choice, irregardless of the owners or the environments wishes, whether it is rewarding, punishing, damaging, or deadly.
IRRESISTIBLE IMPULSE TEST – Whats interesting here is in the human world, or rather legal world there is actually terminology for this, Irresistible Impulses –
The Irresistible Impulse Test was first adopted by the Alabama Supreme Court in the 1887 case of Parsons v. State. The Alabama court stated that even though the defendant could tell right from wrong, he was subject to “the duress of such mental disease [that] he had … lost the power to choose between right and wrong” and that “his free agency was at the time destroyed,” and thus, “the alleged crime was so connected with such mental disease, in the relation of cause and effect, as to have been the product of it solely.”
WHAT ABOUT MY PUZZLE PIECES? I love my dogs, they are everything that I want in my life, and they are my high energy cup of perfect tea!
I have meticulous management, good temperaments (varying but good), vibrant health, optimal nutrition, skill to skill is well matched, and we have a deep understanding on both ends of the leash.
And with all of this goodness I have a little bit of everything, from sweet to asshole, and it changes from day to day. Some days I need more sweetness and cooperation than asshole, and those days I get bothered rather easily. It wouldn’t be uncommon to here me shout stop being such an asshole. I am after all not exempt from having a healthy range of emotions.
And then I have other days where I feel impermeable to the behavioral terrain on my farm, and no matter the asshole or the sweetheart, we all feel smooth together.
I do have one dog specifically that would fit the legal description of having Irresistible Impulses, major asshole behavior (remember behavior is what a dog does, and it is fluid) he knows my buttons and knows when to push them for the maximum reaction, he doesn’t waste his time on the small stuff. He can also be the sweetest thing you have ever met. So ebb and flow.
Understanding why something is happening is the best piece of the puzzle to find. From there you can find direct solutions, build patience, and have a plan for going forward.
I hope this helps, Nancy