What got me to thinking about women and their dogs? We had a scary medical emergency this morning with our lab, Sammy who, from a small thrown away puppy, has had some serious medical issues with his hips and elbows.
When Leila heard Sammy’s low yelp/scream Saturday morning she saw Sammy not moving – not wanting to even get up with coaxing. – Leila, who is pretty practical, immediately became flooded with emotions – with a sinking feeling in her gut – scared to death she was going to lose her Sammy. Sammy is her heart dog. He has definitely moved into her heart, locked the door and thrown away the key!
So we rushed over to the vet. While waiting for Sammy to get x-rayed, we sat in the reception area. I gazed around the area and there were 5 other people waiting for their appointments with their dogs – two men and three women. The dogs belonging to the men were patiently (or not so patiently) waiting on the floor next to their owner’s feet.
Two of the women had small dogs – a Maltese and a Yorkie. Both dogs were in their laps. The third woman had a large male Golden Retriever – a real handsome lad – that looked to be about 2 years old and intact. His back feet were planted squarely on the ground and the rest of him was up on her lap. He stayed that way the entire time until they went to their exam room.
Leila and I must have been watching the Golden Retriever at the same time literally standing on top of his “Mom” when we both turned to each other at the exact same time and said, “Women and their dogs!” Chuckle!
Women are Born Nurturers
That’s one thing that sets them way apart from us rather non-emotional men. 95% of my clients are women. And for the most part, the responsibility to train the family dog lies mainly with them. The women feed them, walk them, care for them and – love them. There is an even deeper nurturing relationship with some women more than others.
Some years back one of my single women clients said about her dog, “I have kept a journal of my new puppy, Sophie and the journey we are on together.” Another has said that, “I somehow seem to be subconsciously aware that my dog won’t live nearly long enough so I try to love him as much as I can while he is here.”
While the connection between women and the dogs they raise is genuine and true, it can become bitter-sweet. It can— keep women from applying the needed structure they know is required to properly parent their new puppy or dog.
Let me explain.
Right off the bat precious new puppies are warm and cuddly and too cute to put down and we already know that many stay-at-home moms feeling guilty crating these precious puppies. The red carpet is rolled out for the new rescue dog. He’s lavished with so much love and affection in an attempt to make up for what he “should have had and didn’t get” in the previous home or never had at all because he was dumped on the street. All of this is the sweet part.
I just started lessons with a wife and her newly acquired rescue dog who was the recipient of just such red carpet, love affair treatment. This was the “sweet” part in the bitter-sweet.
There was so much love and affection in the first two weeks in his new home (still the honeymoon period) that he is now growling when the husband hugs his wife. That’s the “bitter” part. Oh, what to do. I warned this could quickly escalate if a plan were not put into place immediately to get better control of your relationship with your dog.
The must have structure, discipline and manners required for the kids seems to somehow get misguided when it comes to obedience training the family dog.
Leila says all the time that women are nurturers. This was never as clearly observed as it was in one of my puppy lessons today. As I picked up my gear to leave, the wife picked up the puppy and said, “He’s so warm and cute. I just want to hold him but he always fidgets and struggles to get free wanting to get down. It’s like he is rejecting my love. It makes me sad.” I looked at her, then at her husband who shrugged. I guess it’s the nature of women “to love” and it’s the nature of men “to do” – meaning we tend to look at things from a more practical, rather than emotional point of view.
Dogs do need as much structure as kids. And just like with kids, I think we have to strike a balance because dogs do need love and affection but the practical side of me says: please, just make em’ sit first- deal?
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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” successful professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients. He has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
(c)Jim Burwell Inc.