Less Tolerance, More Respect

I fired off a quick Facebook post recently asking people to rethink whether describing their dog as tolerant was really something to be proud of.  Tolerance is a very subjective word. Our society and country is often proudly described as tolerant but when you look at the definition above does that sound like something to be proud of to you? Dislike, unpleasant, endure, deal with….none of these are positive words. To tolerate something is to put up with something you’d really rather not. We tolerate queues, TV adverts and dental check ups….but, given the choice, we wouldn’t choose to. So when we praise our dog for being tolerant aren’t we really acknowledging that he’s putting up with things he’d avoid if he could choose? He accepts the children sitting on him, hugging him, pulling his ears or squeezing in beside him on the sofa…but is he actively enjoying it? Often they are trying as hard as they can to communicate their discomfort to us but their body language is often ignored or misinterpreted. Google the words dog, children, and hug and you’ll see hundreds of images of dogs who are saying, as clearly as they can, that they’re not comfortable. Relying on our dogs’ tolerance to keep our children safe is a risky strategy….even the most bomb proof dog has his limits. It’s hugely unfair on the dog who is often the one to pay the price when he reaches a tipping point and reacts. Maybe a better word to keep in mind when thinking about dog/child interactions is respect? Respect for the dog’s space and his right to choose what interactions he’s comfortable with. Being aware of what they are telling us and respecting that choice. Actively teaching our children how to behave safely around dogs; how to treat them with consideration and thoughtfulness and not as playthings. Respect rather than tolerance will keep our dogs happy and our children safe…win-win! Cheers x www.theperfectpuppycompany.co.uk