Ever since we started to blog about dogs, we had received a lot of questions and feedback on Amber's behavior and how we managed to train her on obedience, unlike other thoroughly trained dogs, Amber is actually happy and playful just like any dogs out there, however some had doubts and had asked us a lot of questions regarding our methods, therefore we think it is good to explain some of the stuff we do and how we believe benefits the dog.
10 years, long or short?
An average dog can live up to about 10 years, some even longer. To a human being, 10 years may seem like a very long time, but for life expectancy, it is actually not long at all, this 10 years with your dog can determine it's whole life, whether it pass on being a happy dog or not lies in your hands. As an owner, you are the decision maker, some can advise you, others encourage but no one can force you, we hope you can spend 15 minutes to read from our point of view and decide for yourself what is your plan for the rest of your dog's life, after all our goal is the same, to let our dogs lead a better and happier life.
Debates on dog behaviors are never ending, everyone has their own opinions on what their dogs are thinking, we too have our views and of course wouldn't mind sharing with you.
I was a child that was crazy about animals, even insects and amphibians interest me, part of the reason I loved animals so much is because I found each and every one of them uniquely fascinating. However there was something more that my parents and i found out, that I was able to adapt to an animal's need and understand their behavior within a short period of time, in a way i could read animal's behaviors/symptoms and then proceed to the library to find out the solution. Often my pets are saved because of this, and it led me further in studying about animals, even started breeding some of them when I was only 8. I got immersed in the library, so much that there was a period of time where I could not find a book about animals that I had not read before, in return this was a big bonus that we had when we got Amber, with reading, animal skills and owning a few dogs previously, learning pack leadership was no big deal for us, we could easily pick up these skills and tweak them to however we want our dog to be, you could say that our methods were purposely tweaked so that Amber wouldn't become like what you see in Daddy/junior from dog whisperer, the obedience level we aimed for is only at 50%, we didn't want a working/therapy dog.
The thing is, through my observations, I always see sad dogs everywhere we go, even when a dog is angry I could still see sadness/frustration beneath it's fierce snarling teeth, they were just confused. I did not understand why some people would hate proper training but yet allow their dog to be depressed, angry and unhappy, even hearing pointless comments like "a dog that does not bark is not a dog" or even "my dog is crazy, it is uncontrollable", it was rather sad to hear all these from owners who claimed they had many years of experience with dogs. After a period of brainstorming we came up with a boarding service that has training included, this gave us a chance to tell owners who opt for the training that everything is possible, that a dog doesn't listen not because it is lower in IQ, too young or it is born that way but because we used the wrong methods, we would then pass the knowledge on to the rightful owner and it would be up to them to follow what they've learned, most followed, which resulted in happiness and even helped to spread news through word of mouth, the rest didn't, which of course the dog repeated the same old mistakes back again, and some only a bit improvements, though some were already contented with the result.
We always emphasize using logical methods when handling dogs, which consist of both human and animal logic, the problem is that most people often use human logic more than animal logic which is not a good idea, animal logic is where you understand how a certain breed think and do things, how they behave and why, most people ignore this part because it takes a lot of work and it is usually not enjoyable, where human logic can easily rely on instinct and people can choose to do things that sound more enjoyable, we think this a natural form of human selfishness. We once received a particular feedback about teaching Amber to stay in her cage, someone commented that it is cruel and wanted us to think of ourselves being locked in a jail, we replied similarly to this: "humans often overreact to certain things especially when animals are concerned and not understanding that we humans do similar things to our species too, would you remember you as a child, or any mother's child being placed inside a baby crate?"
Yes at a certain point of time the baby cries, much more often in the crate than outside, sure the baby would hope to go out with you wherever you go but why would we still leave the baby in the crate when we have to leave their sight, or even put them in their crate when we just want to teach them to sleep alone? Reason is because we just want them to be safe! We do not want to risk our baby falling off the bed unsupervised, or getting hurt by objects around the house, in return we try to spend as much time as we can when we have time, we'd also buy lots of toys and treats for them to spend their time while waiting and with time the baby will learn to love the crate, it will become a bed, not jail. How you introduce the place will affect how a baby or a dog thinks, even if you give a dog a mansion and a yard, with wrong introduction it can still feel stress and think of the place as a jail, the size of the space does not matter, it is how you introduce.
Humans grow and get out of their child state, where else dogs stay in the same state of mind, we can't escape the fact that they can't grow to be as intelligent as us, they would always put themselves in danger no matter how puppy proofed your house is, your kitchen, the toilet, high places, wall paints, wooden furniture etc. We recommend crating a dog not because we like to jail it, we do it because we love them, and we do our best to turn it into a nice place for them, till this date, we have no doubt that Amber loves her crate, she would definitely prefer human company when we return but while we are out, she sleeps, play her toys and eat her treats calmly.
Of course we wouldn't expect everyone to have the same childhood, knowledge and skill, but it is still very important to first understand the basics before getting a dog of your own, there are many dog owners out there that we've seen that either regret getting a dog only after they had just bought it, or even years later when they think they've had enough of the stress caused by the untrained dog, and worst, some who knew they were doing wrong but wanted to keep their pride, thus convincing themselves that their dog were happy, we could see that these owners were trying their best to change for their dog, but they are just too shy or ashamed to ask help from people, resulting in loss of trust from the dog, depression and sometimes aggression.
This post is not meant to discourage anyone to stop getting a dog, but to encourage people to first understand the basics, there are many people out there who get a dog to kill boredom, some who'd even get a dog to help them with depression, dogs are very fun animals, dogs can easily impress and boost your mood even by just looking at them, they can definitely help you to defeat depression. No matter the advantages it is still best to first pick up basic skills, or to attend obedience classes if you have already gotten a dog of your own if not you'd be the one regretting, getting a dog in return might even worsen your problem instead of the other way round, your dog would not enjoy it's life either. We did not learn about animals and dog handling only after we got Amber but long ago, decades in our case, but if you already have a dog with you and have difficulties handling, it is never too late to start picking up some skills before things go out of hand. There are many obedience school out there in Singapore, they are not cheap and not all are good, but it is still better than not learning anything at all, if you have a tight budget, feel free to find us, we do private short sessions for a small fee , if not just drop us an email and we will surely give you some tips with no obligation :) .