My specialty is working with companion dogs. My students get dogs to be companions. They are treated well and treated as family members. Most people get dogs to be companions, however, that’s not how it works out for many dogs.
I got my first dog as a companion. She went everywhere with me… vacations, work, dates, hikes, trips to the store, and visits to friends and family. So it was natural for me to use that experience and outlook to train companion dogs for my students. I like companion dog work, and I understand what it takes to make it work out.
The puzzling thing is why so many companion dogs end up in rescue. Most of the dogs in rescue aren’t working bred dogs, so I can assume that the original intent for breeding and obtaining that dog was for it to be a companion. However, why let your companion end up making unwanted puppies or to develop into a problem dog?
I understand that life can present some unexpected challenges which might make someone have to rehome their dog. For example, let’s say someone goes bankrupt and can barely afford to support their family. They might need to rehome their dog. Or someone develops a serious medical condition and can no longer adequately care for their dog. They will need to rehome their dog, as well.
What I don’t accept is the neglect and abuse of any dog. How do you go from getting a dog as a companion, and then neglect or abuse that dog?
Neglect often comes in the form of no socialization and no training. Then when the dog isn’t working out, the dog is either banished to a crate on the back porch or the dog is abandoned in some other way. I don’t accept that people don’t know better. They do. These people are cruel to their dogs through purposeful neglect.
Abuse often comes in the form of some kind of trauma. Not to make things here too graphic, but abuse would include physical or emotional traumas that damage a dog. That would include whatever the owner or others do to the dog, or what they allow other animals do to the dog. It is impossible to accept that these people don’t know what they are doing. People know they are abusing their dogs.
How does love turn to neglect or hate? An entire library of books could be assembled on this topic, from fiction to non-fiction books.
I think it is important to intervene with people you know who are neglecting or abusing their dogs. Call them out. Maybe you can get through to some of them. If they won’t listen, there is a possibility that their bad treatment of their dogs will end up in the serious injury or death of another animal or person.
One of the first things I counsel students is to immediately begin socializing their puppies. A well socialized dog has a significantly less chance of having behavioral or medical problems. People isolate or get angry with dogs that aren’t social. This is preventable. Next, I want people to successfully house train their dogs. People isolate or get angry with dogs that soil the home. I also want people to teach their dogs to have good manners and to walk nicely on a leash. People isolate or get angry with dogs that tear up the home, aren’t mannerly, or are difficult to walk. Haven’t you seen people harshly disciplining their dogs in public because the dogs pull them down the street? It’s the owner’s fault, not the dog, but the dog pays the price.
If you get a companion dog, treat it like a companion dog. Don’t mess the dog up and then take it out on the dog. Where is the love? If you don’t have that in you, then you shouldn’t get a dog. And if you find yourself neglecting or abusing your dog, you need help. You need counseling. Something is seriously wrong and you need to address it instead of redirecting all of that on your dog.