It might be a bit presumptuous to say that a dog is man’s best friend; for some men that title might be held by his pickup truck, his girlfriend, or maybe even his mother. But in truth there’s a reason why dogs have such high esteem in the eyes of those that own them. As a matter of fact, dogs have been used by men and women throughout the ages, not just as pets but also as true helpers in the household. From farms to animal ranches to those that have hunted for a living, dogs have been a big part of mankind’s survival.
To really appreciate why so many choose dogs as pets and why they’re so valued by many, let’s take a look at some of the common traits of many dogs that make them so prized. This might not help anyone that isn’t a true fan of the animal, but it can demonstrate how those who love dogs aren’t misplaced in their devotion.
Dogs as Hunters
Most dogs have a very heightened sense of smell and therefore can track down just about anything or everything that has a scent.
Humans have been using dogs for centuries during hunting expeditions as they are able to flush out ferrets or deer or rabbits or whatever other animal they’re hunting. While some today may not appreciate this particular skill, keep in mind that for centuries people that didn’t hunt didn’t survive. Many people and cultures would farm and fish and find various food items that way, but many cultures also relied on hunting for their very existence. Without dogs to help them find groups of animals and to flush them out, some cultures would no doubt have had a much more difficult time just surviving.
Even today those that are serious hunters, whether for sport or for food, typically bring some breed of dog with them. There are many different types of hounds that are bred specifically for their abilities to track down an animal and obey the owner’s commands to flush them out.
Dogs as Herders
Have you ever been to a ranch and watched a dog work in harmony with its owner in gathering up the sheep or cattle or other animals? Most dogs have what is called a strong defensive drive, meaning that they protect their owners from harm or danger. This is the drive that comes into play when herding; they are actually acting as a protection by moving the animals back where they belong.
This particular trait is very important and useful when it comes to herding and ranching. Dogs not only keep animals in order, they also guide them to where they’re supposed to be going. They are quicker and more nimble than men on horses and so can get to straying animals quicker.
Many who own ranches or farms of any sort will attest to how important these animals are and how they really could not do their job properly without them.
Loyalty of Dogs
How many stories have you heard of dogs that were hundreds of miles from home and somehow managed to make their way back? This isn’t just some type of instinct on their part but is part of their loyalty to their owner. Dogs become very attached to those that care for them and have an instinctive need to be with them, just like any other member of the family. When a dog is separated from his or her owner their other physical abilities to hunt and track will help them to find their way back, but it’s that attachment that drives them to do so.
This loyalty of dogs is also part of what makes them good pets. They can be trained to do what an owner tells them because their loyalty makes them obedient. This is unlike other pets such as cats, who feel much less attachment to their owners at least to the point where they will sit, stay, come, or obey any other command.
Loyalty too is part of what makes some breeds good watchdogs. They can be trained to bark at or chase away strangers but won’t show this same behavior to their owners because of that loyalty.
Some may argue that dogs are usually loyal only because their owner feeds them, but this is only part of the equation. Many dogs can survive on their own but still choose to stay close to home, not just because this is where the food is but because they want to be part of that family dynamic.
Ever tell a cat to “go lay down”? If you did you probably got nothing more than a very bored look in response. The same might be said for trying to direct a gerbil, pet rabbit, or fish. It’s not that these animals have no respect for their owners, it’s just that they don’t understand and respond to commands the way dogs do.
The trainability of dogs is one reason that they make such good pets, workers, and parts of the family. Of course you can’t have conversations with them but you can teach them rudimentary instructions that make them easier to live with and more useful. They can be sent to another room when company arrives, fetch the newspaper or slippers, and communicate back when they need to go outside and take care of business.
This of course is very convenient given a dog’s size – a gerbil or hamster can be put in a cage, a rabbit in a hutch, and a cat’s litter box hidden away in a far room. But if dogs were not trainable then there is no way they could be domesticated and would be just another type of zoo animal.
Dogs as Family Today
Today dogs are just as valuable to families as they have ever been. While many are still used on farms and in cultures where they hunt for food, other places value them as members of their own family. Dogs are taken on vacation and entire resorts are built around their accommodations.
For those that do need to be put in kennels for any reason, these are now more like little hotels for dogs with gourmet treats, planned out play areas, grooming services, and deluxe sleeping accommodations.
To many people their dogs are much like children and they care for them about as much as a parent cares for a child. This might be scoffed at by some, but calling into question a true and loyal dog owner’s feelings for his or her pet will probably result in nothing but a fierce argument.
Caring for dogs has also become a big business these days. Dog food has gone from “all natural” and “organic” varieties to those that call themselves gourmet and deluxe as well. Some foods even rival the dishes you see that are made for humans!
Dog massage is also a fast growing business, and those interested in their dog’s health can even buy health care coverage for them that is close in benefits and coverage to their own medical insurance.
Taking care of your dog properly is a noble concern. While they are still animals, they deserve to be treated properly. It’s unfortunate that there is really no legal requirement of classes or education to own a dog, and some owners may have the best of intentions but still not be treating their animal properly. Some treatment is so neglectful and inappropriate that it borders on abusive.
Certainly, you do not want to be one of those owners. You want to make sure that you are taking care of your dog properly, are feeding it properly, and are making all reasonable accommodations you can for its health.
On top of which, many owners want to be able to train their dog in a humane and reasonable way as well. The idea of chock collars and smacking the dog on the nose seems horrific to them, and for good reason. At the same time, like children, dogs do sometimes need not just training but discipline as well.
There are right and wrong ways of going about these things. There are basic necessities of caring for a dog and appropriate ways of training her as well as inappropriate ways.
And this is where this book comes into play. We’ve interviewed many dog care experts to get tips on feeding, socializing, training, and all other details that will help you to have a happy, friendly, and obedient dog.
We’ll tell you:
- How dogs think and why they react the way they do; this means around you as the owner, around children, and strangers as well.
- A dog’s nutritional needs; how they’re different from people’s needs, how dog food ingredients react in a dog’s system, and why different dogs need different food and different feeding schedules.
- The different and special needs of puppies; this is not just so that you can take care of them appropriately but that you can begin training your puppy from a young age to behave properly and to be happy and content through adulthood.
- How to care for a dog emotionally. Many take for granted that dogs are thinking and feeling creatures, and they too need emotional assurance and entertainment not just for their overall happiness and contentedness but for their behavior to be appropriate as well.
Dogs have become more than just tools on a farm or employees on a ranch; today they are regarded not only for their usefulness and industriousness but for their loyalty and friendship as well.
And the best way that humans and owners can appreciate these traits from them is to teach them in a responsible way and care for them appropriately.
So if you have a dog or are about to get a dog, then let’s not waste any more time. Let’s get started!