If I had to guess, I’d suppose that I spend more time Googling dog-related topics than the average person.
And it’s not just Google either: My YouTube and Instagram histories are full of all kinds of dog-related searches.
I love it, of course, because as this site proclaims, I am obsessed with dogs.
But, I gotta say… a disturbing trend is emerging.
So much stuff online, especially if there’s a product or service associated, is all about the “perfect dog.”
How to train the perfect dog.
How to raise a perfect puppy.
Want a perfect dog? You need this book, this show, this product.
I get that just about everyone wants to solve a problem behavior, and I totally believe that everyone should teach their dog a handful of basic manners to make your (and their) life happier and safer in the human world… but… a perfect dog?
What even is a perfect dog?
Who wants an automaton pup who sits or lays still by your side? I don’t think that “perfect dog” could make you laugh nearly so much as an imperfect one!
Aren’t their quirks what make them so them?
I get that this language is designed to sell products.
The idea of perfection ordered online and shipped to your door? A quick fix for $20? I can see how this appeals to some people.
If I buy this collar my dog will behave perfectly.
Once I read this book I’ll be able to get my dog to do what I want, when I want.
None of us are perfect. Expecting total obedience and no funny business from our dogs sets them up for spectacular failure.
If you’re not as immersed in the dog world as I am, as many of you reading this are, you might have an idealized dog in your head. Maybe it was from watching too much Lassie as a kid or falling in love with Air Bud (I mean, who doesn’t want a dog who plays basketball???) but that ideal dog isn’t real, and pitching a few products that proclaim all you have to do is this, that, the other to make it so is a recipe for disaster. Dogs end up in shelters for such painfully, endearingly dog-like behaviors as eating trash out of an open garbage can, for peeing in the house, for barking incessantly. Sure, those are annoying behaviors, but they’re natural to a dog (the trash smells and tastes aahhhhhhmazing! why wouldn’t I pee to stake my claim in my own home? I MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!).
Isn’t it incredible and lucky and bewildering that we have the ability to kindly, patiently, compassionately teach them to ignore the behaviors innate to them and follow our weirdo ones that make literally no sense in dog world (you mean I shouldn’t roll in that amazing, fresh pile of random-animal crap?).
Anyway, if you landed here because you’re looking for ways to make your dog perfect, or if you’re here because you share this obsession, the only thing I can tell you is this:
Your dog already is perfect.
He or she is perfect for you, perfect for your family, and perfect as is.
I think we need to flip this script and focus on how we can be more perfect for our dogs.
Because, honestly, they’re already there.