Don’t Punish Your Dog For Being “Too Good”

Sometimes our easy-to-live-with dogs receive minimal attention from us, as we work more with our more challenging dogs.


So that you don’t have regrets later, here’s a quick public service announcement: Remember to appreciate your no-trouble-at-all dog! Sometimes our most naturally easy dogs end up being a little bit ignored precisely because they are wonderful to live with. Is that happening at your house?

Just yesterday I had yet another client articulate their ah-ha moment: “Oh my gosh, I’m feeling so guilty since we got the new puppy. Now that we’re working so hard training and entertaining the puppy, I’m realizing that it has been years since our good old boy has had a bully stick! And sure, we used to train with him – he loved it – but that just dwindled away because he’s really so easy to have around…”

I hear it all the time. So do your future self a favor and remember to appreciate that gift of a soul lying sweetly at your feet, day after day.

Just because you don’t need to give her a stuffed Toppl to keep her from destroying the house doesn’t mean she wouldn’t enjoy one.

Just because she doesn’t need a three-mile walk to be civilized for the day doesn’t mean she wouldn’t love that.

Just because she doesn’t jump all over you and you never need to ask her to sit, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have an amazing time training and learning tricks with you.

Just because she isn’t pawing at you and getting constantly underfoot to make you sit and snuggle with her doesn’t mean she isn’t quietly wishing you’d get down and cuddle with her…

It’s not all about the “problem dog”

Most dog trainers have a story about the difficult dog who landed them on the road to this profession. The more issues there are, the more tools you need at your disposal. The result? You dive into training and enrichment, and end up super bonded to that challenging dog because that’s what extra time and engagement will do to a relationship.

So what of our dear, easy friends? The ones who’ll spend years just calmly hanging out in the house, demanding nothing? The ones watching us head out to a training class with our “difficult” dog, treat pouch in hand? This is just a little nudge to remember that each dog’s life is short, and while you may have many dogs in your lifetime, your dog just has this lifetime, and you.

A dozen years from now, you’ll be glad if you made sure to end every day with a little special time alone with that one no-trouble-at-all friend, gazing into her eyes and telling her you’re so very glad she’s here.

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Kathy Callahan’s new book, Welcoming Your Puppy from Planet Dog, is now available for pre-order wherever you buy your books. Certified as a dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and a family dog mediator (FDM), Callahan specializes in puppies. She and her family have fostered 225 of them in the past decade, and her business, PupStart, is focused on puppyhood coaching. The podcast Pick of the Litter is Kathy’s newest effort to help people and their dogs live more happily together. Kathy lives in Alexandria, VA, with her husband Tom. They’re technically empty-nesters now since their grown daughters have moved on, but the house is still very active thanks to the four family members who were foster-fails: Mojo the German Shepherd/Akita, George the Great Pyrenees/German Shepherd, Kreacher the chow/beagle, and Mr. Bojangles, the best cat in the world.