Picture of a Brussels Griffon to illustrate pick your dog battles.

Pick your dog battles

When most people plan on getting a dog, they imagine what life will be like. They decide on rules for the dog, where it will sleep, when it will go out, who’s going to do what dog chores, who’s going to train the dog. Then real life happens when your dog arrives home. And you realize you have to pick your dog battles.

This week we read a humor column from a writer in The Trentonian who laid out in detail why, despite his wife’s contrary wishes, he would never allow their dog to sleep in bed. Most of his reasons were based on hygiene concerns. We’ll concede that dogs aren’t the cleanest creatures on the planet. The funny part was the last line (spoiler alert!) “Maybe I’m a Grinch, but there’s no way I am sleeping in the same bed as a hairy, snoring, drooling animal. I have no idea how my wife does it every night.

Reality takes over

The fact of the matter is that your dream dog is just that – they live only in your dreams. Your actual dog has a personality. There are things they like, things they don’t, and a vast array of creative naughtiness that you never imagined until they came home. 

A friend of ours is a good example of expectation vs. reality. Her latest dogs would invariably grab anything out of the bathroom wastebasket and strew used tissues around the house. She couldn’t quite bring herself to let them “win.” So instead of just removing the wastebaskets from the bathrooms, she grabbed everything in the wastebasket as soon as you were out the bathroom door. Once we caught on to what she was doing, we took our bathroom trash to the covered kitchen container ourselves.

Picture of a black Brussels Griffon to illustrate dog battles

One of our absolute dog rules has always been that the dogs must be housebroken. No messing in the house, ever. The only exception would be if the dog was sick. Other than that, the first order of business for every dog on arrival was potty training. It worked for us. And then Tango became an old, wobbly dog who doesn’t always really know when he has to eliminate. So the rules adapt. All dogs must be housebroken except Tango, who we cheerfully clean up after. 

No guarantees

Nobody really has the classic, happy family illustrated by Norman Rockwell. Everybody’s life is a bit messy, a bit disorganized. And some days are definitely smoother than others. No dog is really Lassie, or even Snoopy. But for most of us, the reality is even better than we could have pictured. Because until you know the unconditional love of a dog, you don’t know how precious it is. Until you’ve connected so you’re totally in sync with another being, you can’t even imagine what it’s like. 

If there are absolute lines you don’t want your dog to cross, you have to be not only willing to take the time to teach them, you also have to enforce them. And that’s why you have to pick your dog battles carefully. And decide if it’s a battle worth fighting.

Enjoyed this post? Click here to sign up for the weekly newsletter and never miss another!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *