A Dog's Ten Commandments by Stan Rawlinson
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful. Remember that before you buy me.
It would be ideal if this 10-15 year consideration came into play when adding a dog to the family is first contemplated. Far too many prospective dog owners are "in the moment" when they get Fido and once cute puppyhood is past and Fido is a grown dog the romance is over and Fido becomes a burden and a chore.
Too many times a dog is left in a fenced back yard (or tied) and only gets attention at feeding time – if someone remembers to feed him/her at all.
How many pet ads do we see that say:
"cute dog – one year old – don’t have enough time to spend with him/her – re-homing free?"
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me, don't be impatient, short-tempered, or irritable.
Dogs will want to please you and do what you want if you’ve taken the time to help them understand. If you tell Fido to lay down once ever six months he’s more than likely not going to comply. If you’ve not properly house trained the process is not going to come to him in a flash of light.
3. Place your trust in me and I will always trust you back. Respect is earned not given as an inalienable right.
That one’s self-explanatory; if one doesn’t establish a loving, trusting relationship with Fido he’ll never be socialized and pleasant to be around. Loved and trusted dogs want to please their owners.
4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. I am not capable of understanding why? I only know I have been rejected, you have your work, entertainment and friends - I only have you.
You are the supreme being in your dog’s life and his/her life revolves around you and your presence. Fido is totally dependent on you and locking him/her up doesn’t solve anything but makes a nervous, anxious, frantic dog. A fenced yard is one thing but locking a dog up in a bathroom for hours is mistreatment in any language.
5. Talk to me sometimes, even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice and your tone - "you only have to look at my tail."
Dogs respond to their human’s tone of voice and react accordingly. If you scream and yell at a dog all the time he/she soon becomes immune to the unkindness and ignores it to survive. If, instead, your voice reflects love and direction a dog will make every effort to figure out what you want.
6. Be aware that however you treat me; I will never forget it and if it's cruel it may affect me forever.
Harsh and unkind treatment does not work with dogs. Although they may not understand they remember and will avoid those persons that are mean and hurt them.
7. Please don't hit me. I can't hit back but I can bite and scratch and I really don't ever want to do that.
An undisciplined dog is a pleasure to no one. Hitting and striking a dog does not train; it irritates, confuses and creates both fear and anger. Educate yourself on the training and care of dogs before you own one.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, obstinate or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right foods, or I've been out in the sun too long or my heart might be getting old or weak. I may be just dog tired.
Be attuned to what’s going on with your dog. If he/she suddenly slows down, is lethargic, inattentive or cross it’s highly likely there’s a reason and it could be health related. Never assume a suddenly grumpy dog has just had a personality change – check it out.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You, too, will grow old and may also need love, care, comfort and attention.
Pay particular attention to what’s going on with older dogs. Often their eyesight begins to fail, they become incontinent, joints become painful and thought processes aren’t as quick. Be considerate – your dog will go as far as he/she can for you and you should do the same.
10. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say: "I can't bear to watch" or "let it happen inmy absence." Everything is easier for me if you are there. Remember, irrespective of what you do I will always love you.This is the hardest thing dog owners will ever face. They have to make the final decision and it’s inevitable with extreme illness or beyond functioning old age.
**Stan Rawlinson, Author of A Dog's Ten Commandments, Dog Behaviourist & Obedience Trainer's website is www.doglistener.co.uk