7 Things Dogs Can Teach You About Life.

Having a dog is a good reminder of the realities of life, from the good to the bad to the essential, bare-bones of existence, if you can pardon the pun. So here are seven things my dog reminds me of on a daily basis.

1: There’s no such thing as unfair.

If we’re playing tug of war with a rope and I use one hand and she grips with her mouth and uses her paw to loosen my hand, she isn’t cheating. If she shakes her head violently, she isn’t cheating. If I shake the rope and pull it away, I’m not cheating. If I hold it out of her reach with both hands I’m not cheating. There is no such thing as fair or unfair in reality. You can’t explain these concepts to a dog. They’re human ideas designed to keep a human social order, that vary from culture to culture, person to person and day to day. In life, anything that gets you ahead is fair. All anyone can do is stop you getting ahead.

2: Violence is necessary.

Puppies and dogs play by fighting. Their games involve ripping, tearing, pouncing, chasing, crushing, pinning… They learn the pressure points on each other and on you. They learn bite inhibition: how hard they can bite before it hurts. Their entire entertainment package is fight, fight, fight.

Because violence, whilst not completely inevitable, is necessary. You need to be able to vanquish your enemies, kill your prey and scare off your predators. You need to learn to be violent even if you’ll never use it, whether you’re a rabbit, a dog or a human.

3: Prioritize your long-term survival.

The average dog doesn’t think twice about stealing your food when you aren’t in the room. It takes a long time to teach them not to steal because their basic instinct is to eat. You need to teach them that their wellbeing is at risk if they steal. This is because a dog puts its long term survival ahead of anything else. The main drive is to survive as long as possible and whatever gives the best odds of that, wins.

4: Don’t hold grudges.

Whether you “cheated” in a game, punished them for stealing food or unknowingly hurt them, they don’t care. After the act, once the order is re-established, they just want to carry on as normal. If you are repeatedly hurtful, they adapt their behaviour but do not become vindictive. A dog lives in the moment, adapts to change and, as such, does not hold grudges against you, even if you hurt it.

5: Learn as much as possible.

The puppy can’t keep anything out of under her feet, in her mouth and up her nose. Leaves, dirt, dead animals, flowers, bottles, toys, ropes, wires… It takes a long time to chase her away from exploring.

On the flip side, she is always eager to please. It may take 20 or 40 goes, but she will learn that command and enjoy learning it, whether for praise, treats or just the fun of it.

The point is, she’s always ready to learn. The more you know and adapt, the healthier, more efficient and happier you are as an organism. And dogs have this nailed. Learning is a pleasure to them.

6: The pack order is your existence.

Dogs are constantly vigilant for changes in the pack order. They work out who’s in charge very early on and act according to the perceived pack order. Some dogs may decide that the teenage son is clearly running the house and some bitches put themselves before the children after their first season. The pack order dictates every part of their life and it needs to make sense to them.

There is always someone leading and if you refuse to lead they will lead for you.

There is always someone issuing commands and if no commands are issued they will worry.

Every position in the pack is always moveable and if they think someone has dropped out, they are eager to fill in.

And even in human society, if we adopt the same approach we make progress.

7: Enjoy life.

Ultimately, whatever you’re doing with it, strive to have fun. Dogs will turn training into games, enjoy learning new words, practise fighting and role play as different pack members. They will run and jump when there’s free time, grab the best bites of food when they can, cuddle anyone who’ll cuddle them back and try and ensure everyone else is doing the same thing.

After all, whether you’re on this planet for fifteen or eighty years, it’s way too little time to have it all and way too much time to be so serious about it.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… prepare for a puppy.

We got a puppy just under a month ago. Her name is Lamu, after this girl. And she is adorable. But there are some things you need to do in preparation for having a puppy. Both Jon and myself have owned dogs in the past and had some idea what she would need, but for a first time dog owner, here are some preparations you will have to make.

How to prepare for a puppy.

1: Secure everything.

Puppies are like toddlers. They will knock things down, get onto furniture you didn’t think was accessible, chew and break things and dunk things in their food and water. Make sure everything valuable is well out of reach and dangerous places and breakables are secured.

2: Breed specifics.

Many people know to learn about their breed’s common ailments, but all breeds have specific behaviours too. Learn about the things your dog was bred to do, its temperament and its needs. For example, boxers are sociable, high-energy dogs that grumble and “talk” a lot. They will be boistrous and it is not necessarily out of defiance all the time.

3: Crates and beds.

For the purposes of house breaking and obedience training, it is worthwhile to raise your puppy in a nursing crate or dog cage for the first few months, until it knows not to soil the house or break into rooms where it hasn’t been invited.

4: Shopping.

Sometimes the person you are buying or adopting the dog from will give you some toys, blankets and food for them. But you will still want to buy a dry puppy food mix well in advance, as well as a couple of durable toys. Please bear in mind that whilst adult dogs can eat a wholefoods diet including raw meats, due to breeding methods and domestication puppies’ immune systems aren’t always quite as strong, so you will want to transition them from puppy food onto cooked foods and then onto raw foods if you wish to feed them that way.

5: Pee Pads.

These are a lifesaver. They smell of a dog toilet, which will encourage your pup to urinate on them. Keep them near the door so that the pup begins to associate walks with urination.

6: The house.

Depending on your dog’s temperament it will either own the place or be very shy and nervous. To keep it calm, introduce it to the house one room at a time, starting with the room where it will live. For the first few days, keep the puppy mainly to that room and only let it through occasionally. This way it will adjust better.

7: Other pets.

Introduce other pets very early and when the other pet is at their most confident and comfortable. You don’t want the puppy to think your other pets are inferior pack members or it may get snappy with them.

8: Walks and meal times.

Decide on a walk time and meal times long before you get the puppy. You want a time you can commit to, when you won’t be bothered about being woken up with barks (dogs don’t understand weekends) and when you won’t be rushing or trying to fit in other arrangements. Immediately before and after work can work very well for a walk followed by a meal.

And that is how we prepared for our new puppy.

How about you? How did you prepare for your new puppy? Feel free to offer anecdotes and advice in the comments.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!