“This dog is nipping and biting my daughter. She is chasing cars. She is chewing and destroying things right and left.
"This dog is nipping and biting my daughter. She is chasing cars. She is chewing and destroying things right and left.
We've tried everything to make her stop doing these things. She's just not working out and we want to return her."
"He plays too rough with our Yorkie. We're afraid he's going to hurt him. He climbs our fence or any pen we devise and runs around the neighborhood while we are gone during the day. He's a really sweet dog and we really love him but he's just not working out. We want to return him."
These are recent failed adoptions. Over the years, I've begun to see a pattern in the dog "returns." The returned dog is usually a very loving, very social, energetic dog that greets his Beloved Person(s) in the morning with great exuberance and watches them leave the house at 7:30 a.m. He waits and waits and waits all day to hear that garage door open, which finally happens about 6 o'clock at night. Again, he's at the door greeting his Beloved Person with even more exaltation than the morning "hello," only to get a quick pat on the head, a quick boot out the back door while being instructed to hurry and do his "business." While outdoors, he catches quick glimpses of them darting around the house, changing clothes, grabbing a sandwich or the gym bag. In doggie comes, and out the door the B.P. goes again. About 9 p.m. they hear that garage door one more time. Their B. P. comes dragging through the door, tired and ready for some TV and bed. The last thing their B.P. wants to see is the trash strewn across the kitchen floor, the kitchen chair missing one leg, the lovely decorator pillow transformed into snow on the living room carpet, and a dog leaping as high as their eyeballs, ready for a romp, run and playtime. That's when we will get the "it's not working out" call.
For centuries, our dogs have been valuable working members of the home, farm or ranch. They've had a job, even if that job was just to oversee the family activities, watch the children or simply be a person's companion. Many dogs now find themselves "unemployed." They're expected to be "waiters" instead of workers. They spend the majority of their lives waiting and alone. Dogs are social creatures. Let me say that again. Dogs are social creatures. Jodi Anderson says in her book Latchkey Dogs, "Dogs are gregarious, social creatures that must be constantly included in the communal workings of their environment in order to remain companionable. Whether the home is a fourth-floor walk-up or a 10-acre spread, even the sweetest golden retriever can become antisocial if left alone for the greater part of its days and not properly socialized during its nights."
My favorite breed has been Australian Shepherds, but I've always said that if you don't give this intelligent breed a job, they will create one! It might be re-designing the siding on your house, wrapping your garden hoses around the trees or dismantling your patio furniture. If you don't allow them lots of one-on-one time with you, they will attempt to get your attention in ways you will not appreciate. In general, all dogs are wired this way. All dogs need a purpose, even if it is just retrieving the tennis ball and being with you. Any dog that is left alone as much as so many of our "latchkey" friends are bound to develop unwanted or neurotic behaviors out of boredom, loneliness and a huge amount of pent-up energy. (Caesar Milan says, "A tired dog is a good dog!")
I'm amazed how little time people are willing to spend in training, socializing and exercising their dogs. A few weeks of training classes to learn basic commands and a little tennis ball throwing each evening will reap many years of wonderful companionship and love.
We want this furry bundle of adoration beside us when we finally hit the couch and grab the remote at night but unless we're willing to throw him a couple of daily bones in the way of some loving attention and playtime, we should just buy a stuffed animal to pet and call it good!
Leanne Williams is president of Faithful Friends Animal Advocates.