Choose a dog and live in harmony with it: advice from a zoopsychologist


When you think about getting a dog, remember that a pet is not a living toy. This is a separate creature with its own character and habits. Of course, he will adapt to your rules – but in a sense, you will also adapt to his real needs.

How to choose a suitable dog and what should future owners know about the peculiarities of life with her? Let’s tell!

Choose me!

It is not only possible, but also necessary to select dogs “by character”! It is worth carefully studying breed characteristics, not just appearance or size.

Dogs weighing up to 35 kg can often live peacefully even in a small apartment. It is very important that the character, mobility, lifestyle of the owner and the pet coincide. Most dogs require activity.

Relatively calm golden retrievers, poodles, Labrador retrievers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Bichon Frize will feel comfortable in a family with children. Welsh corgi, bigley, husky are also perfect for living together with children, but only on condition of sufficient active physical activity.

For older or very busy people, it is better to pay attention to decorative dogs such as French Bulldogs, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Japanese Chins.

Some breeds are considered human-centered, some are independent, such dogs can keep themselves busy. An affectionate dog is easier to contact, easier to train.

With an independent pet, the owner will have to show character. Not harshness, aggression or brutality, but persistence and consistency.

Shelter or nursery?

When buying a puppy from a breeder, you can imagine how he will grow up, based on breed characteristics, based on knowledge about the character of the parents. But all the same, you choose hypothetically: it is impossible to predict what kind of character the pet will have.

When you take a dog from a shelter, it is no longer a “pig in a poke”. The animal is often 8-9 months old or older. Volunteers can tell a lot about him. Is this dog phlegmatic, sanguine or choleric? How does he relate to other animals, people, children? Human-oriented or independent?

Once you have the information, the chances of finding the right pet increase. Sometimes dogs from the shelter, thanks to volunteers, move to home overexposure and therefore have the skills of living in the city, are accustomed to the toilet. But you need to understand that their character has already taken shape. Yes, you can pass on your rules of life to such an animal, but you will have to reckon with its habits.

It is important not to take the dog out of pity! Feeling sorry for someone, we expect gratitude in return. The dogs from the shelter are grateful to us, but not in the way we understand it. When we take such an animal to us, we pull it out of its familiar environment. And even if the new home is undoubtedly better, the dog needs to get used to it.

When the tenant has eaten all the slippers

If you take a dog from home overexposure at the age of 8 months, it is a little easier than dealing with a puppy. You will have to be very attentive to her, but she will adapt to you faster, since she has already learned the rules of behavior in the house. If you have a puppy, this is tantamount to the appearance of a small child in the house.

Up to 7-8 months, he has the right to go to the toilet, without leaving the room, on a diaper. He has the right to gnaw everything, to spread, if he does not have a sufficient number of interesting distractions for him. You must watch his actions, but you cannot scold him, apply physical punishment.

The puppy cannot be left for a long time: he will be bored. Your belongings and repairs are in jeopardy – so it is worth stocking up with patience, and time, and finances.

Choose a dog and live in harmony with it: advice from a zoopsychologist

Learn and learn again

Raising a dog is best done when it is still young. But classes with specialists (dog handlers, zoopsychologists) will not harm adults either.

What do they give? There are three answers to this question.

1. Find a common language with the animal. It is important to remember: we do not take the dog to class, but ourselves and the dog. There you can learn how to communicate correctly with her. The dog has simple and straightforward species-specific traits that you may not be aware of. And the dog behaviorist’s job is to teach you that. Then you will be able to do everything yourself.

2. Determine the pet’s “work in life”. Dog behavior experts talk about such a thing as “life’s work.” People have a profession, a hobby. Likewise, dogs have things they love to devote their time to. Most often they enjoy doing something with the owner.

We can select activities for the dog that mimic the activities for which its breed was originally bred. “Hunters” can be driven to coursing: this is an imitation of chasing a hare. A shepherd dog can be taken to a tribal or imitation grazing. Many people like agility – overcoming obstacles with a person. There is also dog-frisbee (catching plates), canicross (running with the owner), weight pulling (dragging and dropping loads) and other activities.

3. Correct behavior. Behavior correction is one of the most popular requests that pet owners turn to specialists with. Sometimes a misunderstanding is initially present in the relationship between the dog and the owner. And the longer they live together, the more they annoy each other.

The dog begins to spoil things, bark, show aggression towards other family members or animals. At this stage, many refuse pets. But it is much better to try to establish contact with the participation of specialists.

You can look in your area for specialists in the method of operant training – this is a way of education, built on positive reinforcement.

Before signing up for classes, it is worth agreeing with a specialist that you will come without a pet and see how he works on the site with animals. If his style of communication with dogs and with owners is close to you, you can go to him with a dog. A few consultations with a professional and humane dog handler will give a good result.

We look around

As with any relationship, difficulties can arise between us and the pet. It is better not to scour forums looking for answers to questions: users write about their own experience, but everyone has it different!

Look closely at friends who have pets, at the owners of dogs that you meet on a walk. Surely among them there is a harmonious “couple” in which mutual understanding reigns: the owner uses humane methods when communicating with the pet; the animal does not walk on a “stranglehold”, but on a loose sagging leash; when the owner calls the dog, she immediately comes to him.

Ask: what helped them achieve this result? Perhaps some kind of specialist or literature. Both should be taken into account and continue to look for your own path to mutual happiness with your pet.

What to read: Karen Pryor “Don’t growl at the dog; Clive D.L. Wynn “Dog Soul. How and why your dog loves you ”; Bobkova N., Pigareva N. “Smooth, love, praise. A boring guide to raising a dog. “

Nika Mogilevskaya

About the expert

Nika Mogilevskaya – zoopsychologist, psychologist-teacher, canister therapist center “Chronos”; head of the direction of attachment and responsible treatment of animals, charity foundation “Giving hope”.

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