Sometimes our dogs seem almost perfect. They greet us enthusiastically every time we come home, and snuggle with us when we’re sad or lonely. They make us laugh with their antics and are usually up for a walk, whether we think we need one or not! They are adorable just sleeping.
At other times, they can be exasperating: Barking at “nothing.” Seeming to have hearing loss when you ask them to sit, no matter how times you ask. They may run around the house when they know you’re trying to leave, keys in hand. Or jump on guests. I’m sure you have many examples of patience-trying behavior!
Dogs are as imperfect as we are. Yet, we sometimes expect them to be better than the people around us. Maybe even better than us! Are you always polite, even when overtired? Are you uncooperative when you don’t feel like doing what someone wants you to do, when they want you to do it? Ever lived with a teenager – did they do everything that you asked them to do? Fat chance!
No one expects the people that they live with to always be polite. We argue. We get mad. We get our feelings hurt. We sometimes cry. But for some reason, we seem to expect our dogs to always be pleasant and cooperative. Why? Where did we get such a silly notion?
Your dog is an individual with his own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes they’re in a bad mood. Sometimes they may not feel well or just want to be left alone for a bit. We all need to recharge, including dogs. We all want some autonomy; no one wants to be ordered around all the time. Some days they just may not want to get out of bed except to eat and pee. That’s the equivalent of you staying in bed and watching movies all day!
On behalf of your dog, I’m asking you to have realistic expectations of them as individuals. They’re not any more perfect than you. They have hormones, hunger pains, sore muscles, and moods just like people. Truthfully, they’re more good-natured than most people – so the least we can do is cut them some slack when they’re out of sorts. Next time your dog does something you don’t like, keep it in perspective. Be sure you’re not holding them to a higher behavioral standard than you have for the people you live and work with! Our dogs tolerate our imperfections with grace and love. Having realistic expectations of them is the least we can do in return.