Alright, it’s about time I come clean. If you aren’t familiar with my dogs, I have two German Shepherds, Targa and Scout. They are hot-headed and don’t play well with others. In a nutshell, my dogs are jerks (but I still love them).
I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite awhile. I see posts and photos of dogs out and about with their owners, sitting nicely for pats or playing happily with other dogs. Everyone looks so content. My reaction is sometimes, “why can’t my dogs be like that?”
Life With Reactive Dogs
My guys are reactive, anxious and nervous. That means they’re always looking for danger. I could never go to a coffee shop, sit outside with one of my dogs (forget both at once), and enjoy a hot drink. There would be chaos. My drink would get cold, or would end up on my lap, since I’d be managing a storm at the end of the leash.
Hikes and nature walks are another challenge. My husband Jeff and I love to hit the trails to run or walk. We often take the dogs, but it’s not the most relaxing way to spend a couple of hours. We’re always watching for loose dogs approaching, or people walking or running toward us. We’re the ones on the side of the trail, managing two barking and seemingly frantic dogs while others pass by.
Having visitors to the house isn’t easy either. To keep things simple (and to ensure everyone’s safety), I put the dogs up whenever others drop by. And you know something? I don’t feel bad about it at all. My dogs enjoy their free time at home, they really love playing in their field, and they’re free to do as they please on most days. So if company is coming, Targa and Scout simply have a quiet “time out”. It’s rest time where I put them in a separate room with a radio on. They’re relaxed, and so am I.
My dogs are complicated. When there are other people or dogs, my two are complete jerks. I know that and I always expect that. But you know what? I still love them. Because when it’s just us at home they’re usually pretty good (well, other than barking at the windows). They both look for affection from me and make great company. Except when they fart. I could do without that.
We live in a society that expects all dogs to be friendly. I feel people silently judging me as I quietly work to keep my dog controlled. My reaction is to just smile and say hello, because that’s how it is. My dogs probably won’t like you, and that’s okay. Don’t take it personally. They’re my dogs. And I love them.