Canine likes and dislikes

I'm sure when this little pugs owner never knew she was getting a frisbee dog.  :)  

Heading to the park I have to smile.  Elsa is in the back of my xterra, monkey talking.  As soon as we turn onto a particular street it begins.  She loves her walks but saves the monkey talking for one specific park.  Elsa loves to run or walk anywhere but she most definitely has favorites, just like we do. 

When a new dog joins your family; there is much to learn about each other.  One of the most important and first up activity is socializing.  It is one of the most crucial aspects of having a new puppy.  Time out and about seeing the world gives you a great deal of information about your dog's likes and dislikes. 

It always leaves me shaking my head when I see people doing things with their dog that their dog hates.   Just the other day at the park, a woman was walking a tiny yorkie.  She neared another woman with her large dog and said "can we say hi?"  The yorkie withdrew to the end of the leash; in a frantic effort to get away from the friendly interaction.  Her dog did not want to say "hi," even though she wanted him to say "hi." 

I have been at dog parks many times and witnessed dogs sitting in the corner or under their owners legs cowering.  When I asked one woman about her dog; the owner stated "oh she hates it here, but it's good for her"  Hmmmmmmm?  

So, is forcing the issue the way to get our dogs to like what they dislike?  No.  In some cases, like the dogs who hate the dog park; best to just not go to the dog park.  Why not take a nice walk in a normal park where they won't be forced to have other dogs in their face?  

A couple of weeks ago as Elsa and I sat at a red light, waiting to head off to the beach; a woman jogged by with her mix breed dog behind her and in panic mode.  The dogs ears were flat back, tail tucked under it's legs, with it's head whipping around in alarm mode.  The woman wanted her dog to run with her; yet it was clear that the dog was in terror mode while out on the run.  What to do?  Baby steps to get to the goal.  

Maybe the dog was a rescue who loved to run around in his yard. Taken out of his peaceful yard, everything changed.  It was so clear that the dog was not having any fun at all.  Not only was it not having fun but it was in a serious state of stress.  Stress is not good for us and it is not good for our dogs.  Down the road of time, the dog may love to go for a run at the side of the street; but taking the time to create a positive association to it is required to get there.  

I have seen dogs in a show ring who cringe and cower from it all.  I've watched as dogs are forced into the agility, fly ball and field work who recognizably do not want to be there.  Yes there are things that we have to do in life that we don't enjoy.  So do our dogs have to do some things that they don't like.  But on a day to day, shouldn't we all be doing things that don't freak us out?  

If a dog shows stress signs during an activity that you would like them to partake in, they need help.  You must address the issue and with time and patience they may learn to like, if not love it.  There will be those who never learn to even tolerate certain activities; and that's fine, like us.  If your dream was to have an amazing retriever; but you've ended up with a dog that loves to run, maybe you will become a runner.  

Each and every dog is an individual.  It is up to us to see those differences and help them be all the dog that they can be.  Offer actities; even ones that aren't the norm, like the frisbee pug in the photo.  Don't force.  Guide, lead and assist.