From first rescue dog Sam, my life has been enriched immeasurably by dogs
Dogs v Cats, there’s only one winner. My childhood was spent pestering my parents for a canine companion, every birthday and Christmas brought disappointment. As soon as I had keys to my own front door I was through the gates of the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home ready to find a friend.
He was middle-aged, he’d been a guest there before and he had epilepsy but he was – and always will be – my heart dog. Sam was perfect, apart from one thing, given the chance he would chase cats. This wasn’t really a problem, I’m not a fan of them either, but what really puzzled me was that he allowed them to wander through the back door into my flat and wouldn’t bother them indoors.
I bought a book on dog behaviour and was collared; it was the beginning of what has become my life long learning journey about canine behaviour and training.
This obsession has been going on for so long that before the internet existed I enrolled on correspondence courses and travelled around the country to hear speakers and train.
Post-pandemic there’s a whole new world of learning available online. Novices be warned though, while some good information is freely available from reputable sources, there’s also lots of out of date and frankly poor information out there. Social media is a particularly dangerous place. I regularly see people being given bad advice on local groups and testosterone fuelled video clips about training dogs by being their pack leader, using debunked dominance theory and other ideas that are way behind the times. Behavioural science and the world of training has, thankfully, moved on.
Dogs are capable of so much more than just being our pets, though they are incredible at that too. The abuse they put up with from humans is remarkable, particularly when they’re predators perfectly able to kill – and eat – us.
If there’s one thing I’d urge anyone with a dog in their life to do it’s to learn about canine body language. They pick up pieces of our verbal language and yet most of us make no attempt to learn how they’re communicating back, which they are doing – constantly. Once you can see it you’ll likely be possessed by dogs too.