I just read the tragic story that a week after a young family bought a dog, the dog bit one of their children. Of course, the dog immediately had to pay the ultimate price for the lack of the human’s responsibility.

It doesn’t matter what breed the dog was, and it doesn’t matter how it all happened. What mattered was that the parents were careless. Because of that, the dog and the child suffered. Obviously, they didn’t properly introduce the dog to the children and the children to the dog and they also didn’t protect them from each other.

When we buy or adopt a dog, we humans have three key responsibilities:

1. We have to know ourselves and our lifestyle well enough to assess the dog as best as possible to determine whether the personality, energy level, and tolerance level of the dog matches with the family’s circumstances.

This is where many rescue groups do a great job by inquiring as much as possible about the family to make an adequate decision. I know many people get annoyed that they have to fill out a 10-page application, but there is a reason for it.

2. We have to help the dog get used to their new circumstances as soon as they come to their new home. Too often I see people bring a new dog home and just let him/her run the house with no proper guidance.

When we adopt/buy an adult dog, we have to take into consideration that they are confused about why they are at your home, why they were separated from their previous family, and how your routine is different. That’s why spending time with the dog, giving them room to decompress but also immediately guiding them with boundaries, will help them settle faster and feel more secure.

Unfortunately, many people wait for this process until the dog made a major mistake and something or someone was damaged.

3. We have to take responsibility for every fault the dog makes. Dogs live in our environment, not the other way around, and it is natural that they make mistakes. No matter what mistake they make, whether it is light or severe, it is us who have to take responsibility.

What does that mean? Responsibility stands for “respond” and “ability.” In other words, we respond to the situation and are able to take action to improve the situation. It doesn’t mean that you blame the dog and immediately return the dog to the shelter (I see this way too many times).

It also doesn’t mean that you make the dog’s world smaller so that the dog doesn’t come into the situation again. (For example, the dog chewed up your baseboards and now the dog only spends time in a crate.) Every behavior is communication. And since dogs can’t talk it out, they act it out.

Dog ownership is leadership and without it, confusion, mistakes, and regret are most likely the outcome. When we accept responsibility, we become better people as a result.

Avoid these mistakes and more by signing up for another episode of “Dog Owner Training” on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at 12 pm EDT. 

If there is a situation with your dog where you want ideas or guidance on how to address it appropriately, submit your question in the registration form and I guarantee you I will address it during the class.

You will also learn from other people how they solve challenges with their dogs. This is dog owner training and not dog training; therefore your dog stays at home while you check in on Zoom.

The fee for this online class is a $25 tax-deductible donation to the rescue group of your choice or the rescue group that referred you to this class.

And please forward this information to friends, neighbors, and family who may have a question about their dog and need some guidance before it’s too late.