What is the definition of a good dog? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a good dog is defined as follows:
Good (adj.) 1) of a favorable character or tendency 2) agreeable or pleasant 3) suitable, fit 4) well-founded, cogent 5) adequate, satisfactory 6) virtuous, right, commendable 7) kind, benevolent 8) competent, skillful 9) loyal 10) free from sorrow or infirmity
No wonder the word "good" is dog spelled backwards with an extra "o" in it. Dog (n.) 1) A highly variable domestic mammal closely related to the grey wolf 2) A worthless or contemptible person 3) An unattractive person; especially: an unattractive girl or woman
First off, I think the third definition for the word dog is highly offensive because I only wish to aspire to the greatness of a dog. Secondly, this definition does not even capture the depth and meaningfulness of what it means to be a dog. And finally, if Merriam Webster is reading this right now, I think you guys need to revise the definition to be more like this...
Dog (n.) 1) a highly intelligent, intuitive, social domestic animal that comes in many shapes, sizes and colors 2) a loyal friend 3) an adventurous companion 4) a soulful creature who is capable of teaching people a lot about life, love and happiness 5) a working animal who's biggest job is being a human being's best friend 6) a highly motivated animal who will work for food, toys, attention and praise 7) a sensitive animal who will never forget being mistreated 8) an animal who deserves to be respected and appreciated 9) capable of learning over 200+ words/commands 10) has over 100 million olfactory cells in its nose 11) sees color on a blue to yellow spectrum, does not see reds, sees a lot of grey 12) has exceptional hearing 13) loves to play, sniff, run, romp and roll 14) loves to sleep and eat 15) loves to love people
I always ask clients what their idea of a good dog is before we start training their dog. Yes, we all want to have a good dog, but it's so important that we define what that means. Do you want your dog to have a reliable recall? Do you want a calm dog who greets you at the door without jumping? Do you want a dog that keeps their paws off the counter? A dog who brings you your slippers in the morning? A dog who stays when you ask him to? Etcetera. It's important to break down all of the specific "problems" that your dog has so that you can start learning how to effectively train and manage your dog to modify his behavior. Most importantly, it's very important (very important) to visualize your dog being a good dog and then look for and positively reinforce any and all good things that your dog does. Human nature tends to have a negative bias and we are very good at giving a lot of attention to bad things. Train yourself to look for the good in your dog and your dog's behavior will immediately start to change all around. Sometimes I think using a clicker to train animals does as much for the human as it does for the animal. It trains people to look for the good behavior in order to give a click for it. Write down all of the "bad" things that your dog does and then re-write it in a positive light. For instance...
I hate it when my dog pulls on the leash I love it when my dog walks loosely on a leash by my side
I don't like it when my dog begs for food I love it when my dog lies at my feet at the table in a down/stay
Then write down your own definition for a good dog. This is my definition...
A good dog is a happy, trained, attentive, balanced, calm, loving, playful animal who follows all of my expectations, boundaries and rules. A good dog waits and looks patiently at me for my cues to allow him to enjoy all of the good things in his life. A good dog is calm and mellow who is happy to lay around all day by my feet knowing that he's going to have play time and exercise in the morning and evening. A good dog can be safely trusted off leash and will reliably come when called and leave things alone when I ask him to. A good dog will follow my benevolent lead based on trust and communication rather than physical and emotional intimidation and aversives. A good dog is a cuddle bug. A good dog can be trusted to be non-aggressive and confident around all people, kids and other animals. A good dog is calm and non-reactive around loud noises, strange objects and new places. A good dog can be left alone in the house without being crated and can be trusted to not make a mess or chew things up. A good dog is quiet and Zen. A good dog is enjoyable to be around and is an absolute joy to spend the best and worst moments in life with. A good dog makes all of your troubles and worries melt away and teaches you how to play and enjoy life. A good dog teaches you how to love everything and everyone unconditionally.
What's your definition?