You must know that I love dogs. They are so enthusiastic about life, so mischievous and at the same time, so innocent that more often than not, I find myself laughing out loud at something one of the dogs at Chatfield State Park‘s off-leash area is doing. Great friends, our dogs.
I’ve had three of these guys in my adult life. Prophet, my current best friend, is a German shepherd who looks as regal as Prince Charles (perhaps more), but has the personality of a goofball. He’ll body-check the other dogs at the park, then trot up to me as if to say “What? I was only playin’.”
When Prophet was a pup, I decided that training would be a part of his life forever. He went to all the puppy classes we could find, and passed through beginning, intermediate and most of the advanced programs. He did clicker-tricks, and to this day, loves to perform for guests. Proph has even earned his Canine Good Citizen award from the American Kennel Club.
Training kept a lot of misbehaviors to a minimum.
Then there were no more classes to take, and his one big walk a day was the only real excitement in his life. He’s also on steroids for allergies, so he’s hungry all of the time. He blossomed from a sleek 85 pounds to over 110 in this past year. Eat, sleep, eat, sleep hasn’t proven to be the best regimen for Proph.
Personally, I think a lot of trouble happens for dogs and their owners in the years after puppy training is done. Training is exercise for the brain and dogs seem to love it. Without constant training, boredom sets in. Boredom for Fido translates into chewed up clothes and furniture, getting in your face (or butt) at every opportunity and digging, scratching or other obnoxious behaviors even an owner couldn’t love.
Then there are the health issues that come with stagnant life styles. Obesity, exacerbation of problems like hip dysplasia and arthritis, heart issues all can be attributed to lack of exercise.
Okay, so I’m going to start training again. No program at my pet store. No fancy tricks. Just Prophet, me, and throw mats. I’m going to reintroduce the concept of “place” and see if I can open my front door without Proph making a mad dash for freedom and the neighbor’s cat.
Wish me luck!