Listening to your dog

I don't know how many times I've been at a dog park to photograph and seen dogs who wish they were not there. The owner is sitting having a lovely chat while the dog watches the clock tick away until the time when she can leave. The dog in its entirety is saying "I don't want to be here." Every dog is an individual and not all dogs want to socialize. I'm not talking about the ones that are dog aggressive; the ones who simple are not interested in romping around with strange dogs everyday; or any day for that matter. Tilley is one of these dogs; she has always drawn people with their dogs wanting to play with her. Especially when she was at her flying peak; people would stand and watch her "get air" going for her Frisbee and then ask if their dog could play with her. I was always apologizing; "she doesn't play with other dogs, sorry."

Tilley and Luke both love the beach; swimming and running through the shallow water and basically getting good and dirty. Not Jessie; she wants nothing to do with the beach, although she does love to catch frogs at the edge of a pond. So when we visit the beach; Jessie stays home. It is important to know what your dog enjoys doing and what they do not enjoy doing. Each and everyone has a different criteria for fun; something very personal that makes them tick. For Jessie it has got to be digging for critters; she was bred to do this and loves it.

I've worked with people who desperately wanted their dog to be a therapy dog; one that visits hospitals and brightens the patients day just by a touch. Unfortunately some of these dogs would have hated the job and I had to let the guardian know this. Having a therapy dog is a wonderful thing; if the dog enjoys being touched by strangers on a daily basis that is. Some dogs love it; you can just see the immense pleasure they get from it as everyone gushes over them. For many dogs this would not be what they called fun, or even enjoyable in the least.

Life is short; unfortunately even shorter for our dogs so spending it doing things you hate is not ideal. Some dogs love to run; run for the sheer joy of running. Perhaps you hate running; as I do, I'm a walker but Luke LOVES running so I find a field where he can be off leash and he runs like the wind. He runs and runs until he's spent; there is nothing more amazing to watch. Maybe your dog is a couch potato and you are a runner; some dogs are just not meant to run so you go run, get those endorphins going so you are happy. Then come home and snuggle up on the couch with your dog. It's not an either or; it's an everyone is happy thing.

But chances are; in time you will love whatever it is that your dog loves. I've met so many people who are involved in activities that they never thought they'd find themselves in. "My dog loves this;" as they beam with a smile from ear to ear. I met a guy at the park the other day hooking his Siberian up to a harness and a skateboard; the dog was frenzy barking just like a typical sled dog. We talked about Urban mushing which he was involved in and I've had the honor of photographing. He said when he can't get out to mush he pops on the harness and skateboards with his dog. He said "it's the best thing I've ever done."

More often than not you can find common ground with your dog. All of my dogs love to walk; off leash in a big open space. This is pretty common ground for all dogs and dog lovers. Watching your dog be free; smelling, exploring and running without a care in the world. It's probably my favorite thing to do; watching them have fun is my fun.


  1. I love this article. So very true. I have four dogs (one is a female standard poodle who is my heart although I love the others too) They are all different in their manners and personalities which is what makes life with them so interesting. But people have to recognize that dogs DO have personalities that must be taken into consideration if they (and their owners) are to be happy. I love your last comment...and you are so right. My four go with me for an hour run through the timberland that surrounds my house each morning. And that is my fun also, watching how each one explores the world in their own different way. The poodle is the most self affirming to watch though because she wants me to be part of her world and constantly checks back with me to see where I am and am I watching her have fun. She thinks I am fun and that makes me feel really special. Thanks for your blog. I just found it and it has gone on my bookmarks toolbar for regular checking. You write beautifully.

  2. Thank you Cynthia; it is really wonderful to know that people enjoy what I write. I take great joy from writing about dogs and love when I can share my love with others.


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