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Pet Column: Just like humans, no dog is perfect

“While training with Roscoe, it’s not perfection we aim for, it’s progress,” Elle Williams said. Photo by Elle Williams.

By Elle Williams, CCPDT-KA  
Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider  

As a professional dog trainer, I am often involved with pet parents seeking solutions to problem behaviors, more often people seeking the “perfect dog.” I myself feel pressure to have the perfect pooch. Yet, comparing our pup to our neighbor’s dog, dogs on social media, and dogs in TV shows and movies is completely unrealistic. 

Believe me, all dogs have some form of imperfection, but is that really a problem? Of course, there are behaviors that can and should be addressed in order to have a happy and healthy dog. I’m not saying it’s okay to over look behaviors such as aggression, separation anxiety, and excessive barking, just to name a few. What I’m saying is, perfection is an unrealistic goal to place on anyone, including Fido.

When I look at behaviors, it’s all up to the individual’s lifestyle. Some people love how clingy a dog is, while others find it a disruption to everyday life. Someone may love that their dog has energy for days because they live a very active life, while less active individuals would be overwhelmed with a high-energy working dog. 

So perfection really depends on how well a dog’s behavior fits in with our lifestyle. This is why knowing the breed, their history, what their needs are, and what the dog’s parents are like is important when considering getting a dog. 

Dogs are individuals, both nature and upbringing play a role in behavior. But we can’t overlook the breed-specific needs, like how a poodle will need more grooming than a terrier, and a heeler will need more physical exercise than a dachshund.

We really shouldn’t compare our dogs to others. See, that perfect walking dog may be great on leash, but bark at any noise in the house. Or that dog who’s great with kids might fear tall men. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and so do dogs.

Tv shows and movies have done a great job of shaping what we think is the perfect pup. Think of the TV dog who never does anything wrong, it may even be the one who saves the day. But the classic Lassie dog is a rarity, really a myth. Dogs on TV are highly trained on the set, but I’m sure they have their flaws behind the scenes. And there is nothing wrong with that. Again, no one is perfect.

When I watch scripted shows, I point out how so often the behaviors taught are hardly realistic to what a dog would do in real life. Barks are the worst since a bark on cue never sounds like the bark a dog would actually make in the context of the situation. 

Even shows like Caesar 911 give us unrealistic expectations about how quickly problems can be resolved. These shows are highly edited and cater to views rather than reality.

So why is any of this important? Well, it’s important we all hear it — no one is perfect. Ease your mind knowing even a dog trainer’s dog has its quarks. These quarks often make a dog who they are. Unique personalities deserve to be seen as such. If you wanted a robot, you should have gotten one, but instead, you have a beautiful individual who may chew up a shoe and bark at the Amazon delivery guy but has unconditional love to give. A trait humans could really learn a thing or two about.

Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.

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