Ever see a Rottweiler in a stroller? A Doberman in a tutu? A mastiff in a crib?
Little dogs bring out the goo-goo gaga in people — namely, people who shave their legs. In return, these bald-legged types treat their pint-sized canines as if they gave birth to them: teensy outfits, miniscule booties, trips in the stroller swaddled in pastel blankets, tiny paws never gracing the ground.
It’s all so precious.
Personally, I like horse people. There is something about a horse that makes the people who care for them sit up and take notice that a horse is a horse. Of course, of course.
Horse people prepare for the arrival of a new horse. They build something called a barn and fill it with stuff called hay. They divide the barn into stalls and ensure that the number of stalls is equal to or greater than the number of horses. They stock the barn with all kinds of horsey goodies: brushes, blankets, water buckets, feeders, saddles, stirrups, bridles, bits, reins.
And then, after night falls, mom and dad bring the horse inside, dress him in a onesie and tuck him into bed with them.
Oh, wait, that’s the dog people again.
Obviously, I love dogs. All kinds of dogs. And I love people who love dogs. All kinds of people. But when people lose sight of the fact that a dog is a dog and not a small person with superfluous appendages and hypertrichosis, that’s when trouble comes knocking.
Toy breeds are allowed to bark, yap, nip, jump, crawl on the baby, tear through the house and relieve themselves on the floor because they’re cute and small and, in the case of the latter, “it’s just a little.” But a little goes a long way when it comes to the smell of urine in the house. And cute can only hold its own for so long before all the unwanted behaviors take their toll.
Pay your local shelter a visit, and you’ll find its residents are predominantly Chihuahuas and pit bulls, with a smattering of other breeds. Ironically, those pit bulls and Chihuahuas are largely in the clink for the same reason: Precious and cute in the beginning, but no one learned how to handle them. The pit bull grew big, the Chihuahua got yappy, the house started to stink.
This isn’t fair to the dogs.
“No” alone doesn’t teach anything. I’ve talked to people who have said “no” in various tones and at myriad decibels for upward of a decade, to no avail.
Love alone doesn’t conquer all. Loving people have seen their beloved dogs deemed vicious and ordered euthanized by law enforcement.
A woman called me recently because she has three little dogs she says are impossible to housebreak. The truth is, she never tried. She lined her floors with paper, essentially teaching them to go inside.
I said, “How would your dogs know you want them to go outside when you’ve encouraged them to go inside?”
She said, “I’m their mother. They should know I know best.”
We are the humans, we are the homeowners, we are the ones who care where they go, how loud they are, what they chew on. It is our responsibility to prepare, to have a plan, to equip, to train. It’s up to us to build a barn and fill it with all the right stuff. That’s just good horse sense.
Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com, and visit him athttp://www.unclematty.com. Send your questions to email@example.com or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619. Copyright 2012 Creators Syndicate Inc.