Dog’s Eye View: Love without knowledge
July 7, 2016
"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." (Corey Ford, an American humorist, author, outdoorsman and screenwriter. 5/29/1902 – 7/27/1969)
The first time I read this, I did a double take. Then I laughed and nodded my head approvingly, thinking what a smart, insightful and kind man he must have been.
This reminded me of a conversation I had some time ago with a dear friend who has the gift of passion for shelter dogs and foster families. She herself has fostered several dogs that were then placed successfully in forever homes. She and her husband have adopted a dog that they fostered.
My friend sometimes calls me with questions about some canine problem behavior. She's an educator and a willing student who tries very hard to keep an open mind when the world of the science of canine behavior collides with her beautiful heart. I too listen carefully to her when she explains the emotional side of shelter work and the toll it can take on those who put themselves out there on the front line of rescue, restore to health and re-home.
For a long time, we seemed to play tug of war between the love that she feels for dogs and the knowledge part of dealing with the observable behavior with which she was struggling. Who in the world of dog rescue has not led with their heart? Usually that's why people are there in the first place.
We partnered on helping her dog with his leash-walking manners. While walking together, I described the behaviors her dog was showing and how, when seeing these, she could train more effectively. Our walks were somewhat similar to listening to a sportscaster describing a Broncos game on TV, only a lot more quietly.
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When she actually recognized her dog's behavior in the moment that it happened and heard my descriptive words, it really seemed to come together for her. She said that she felt empowered by knowledge.
Ah, now that's music to any dog trainer's ears. A later conversation provided me with what I always hope for when working with a dog owner. She had pondered our discussions and put together what I thought was an insightful expression of her understanding.
She said, "If you have love without knowledge, you have half the essentials tied behind your back." I would also say that knowledge without love ties half the essentials behind your back as well.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC with over 30 years of experience.