There ARE bad dogs…

I see owner after owner attempting to make a dog who’s a bad fit…fit. These could be dogs with attitudes and dispositions that make them poor candidates for your typical family dog. (A willingness to challenge, push, correct, control, dominate their humans.) Or, they might be dogs bred for serious work applications, which we’ve selected for being independent, strong-willed, hyper-territorial, hyper-protective, hyper-suspicious, etc. And of course, you can plenty of overlap or uncertainty regarding which is which and why.

Regardless, we need to start being more realistic, more practical, more grounded in what’s possible and best, and less grounded in fantasies of every dog being capable of being a “good” dog.

We’ve bought into the belief that any dog can be trained and shaped into a great house pet. This simply isn’t true. There are many dogs that, regardless of training, regardless of structure, and regardless of how much the human works to be their best, will still not be good fits.

A dog’s temperament is a complex mix of nature and nurture. A good trainer can nurture a dog to be the best that they can be. However, the dog’s nature (genes) cannot be changed.

We need to recalibrate our expectations and understanding. Just because you want something to be, doesn’t make it possible. Forcing a dog who is a bad fit, for whatever reason, to “fit,” is the perfect way to create heartbreak, disappointment, and even get humans hurt.

When it comes to living with dogs, the reality is much better than fantasy.

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