I hope everyone realizes it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. This is one of the few enjoyable non-commercialized holidays that we have left. It’s critical to pay it the respect it deserves.

As a last bit about dogs for a while, I wanted to list a few things that I’ve read about dogs and dog training that were interesting, or a change from older philosophy. I’m doing this as much for my own reference as for anybody else that’s interested in dogs. These are also from my point of view, so you don’t necessarily have to agree with what I’m saying. I welcome feedback.

  • Dogs may tolerate getting hugged, but they don’t enjoy it. The act of pressing chest to chest in embrace for comfort is a practice we’ve kept since we evolved from our primate form. Our relatives – chimps, bonobos, and apes – are of the few animals that hug. If you look at a four legged creature, consider how unnatural and physically weird the act of a hug is for them. Also consider that, to dogs, putting your limbs or torso on top of them could be considered either a sexual advance, or a method of attempted dominance. Many incidences involving children getting bitten by a dog result from when the child attempts to hug the dog. Look at the expression on a dog’s face when being hugged, and ask yourself, does it look to be enjoying the hug?
  • Dogs also meet and greet in a different way than we do. A dog’s "Whasssssup!" equivalent is during the smelling of the derriere and sides of one another’s mouths. Unlike humans, who face each other and make direct eye contact, dogs naturally angle away from one another in greeting and avoid making eye contact. Directly facing and staring is about the rudest greeting for a dog. Now think about how two dogs on a short leash with a lot of tension are forced to greet each other. Hmm.  Dog fights can occur from this posture. I can speak from personal experience also when I say a lot of dog bites have happened when children try to put their faces near a dog’s. 
  • Puppies grow up to be dogs. It was cute when the little st. bernard puppy jumped up on you for affection, but somehow it’s not so cute when that puppy becomes a 150-pound drooling monster. It’s not fair to a dog to allow or encourage behaviors in puppy-hood that you don’t want when they’re full grown.
  • Dogs live in the present. The good thing about this is they can easily put past transgressions behind them if their owners let them.  You can also apply this knowledge in training! Some trainers suggest you have from 1-3 seconds to either correct or reward an action a dog performs for you, beyond that a dog can’t simply connect the action and why they’re getting rewarded or punished. So for example, punishing a dog 3 hours after you’ve found it’s pooped in your house is no good. What the dog learns from this late punishment is that it gets punished when it’s owner finds it’s poop.  And now because the dog has learned this, you get to participate in mystery excrement treasure hunts!
  • And lastly, the great things! Dogs are natural stress inhibitors. Studies have shown they can help to control our blood pressure and regulate our moods. They can be a good social support, provide protection, and they can’t help but be good listeners.