Dogs

Obama Dog Tips

posted: 08/13/12
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Victoria's TipsHelp! My Dog Eats Poop , Intimacy Issues , Dogs That Lick , New Baby, Old Dog , Separation Anxiety

Watching the First Family's beautiful new Portuguese Water Dog, Bo, frolic on the South Lawn of the White House and seeing the joy that he has brought to Sasha and Malia reminds us all once again why dogs share such an important place in our lives. Along with the rest of the world, I have followed the Obamas' search for Bo with great interest and am so happy for the entire family, especially the lucky puppy.

The joy of welcoming a new dog into the family is one of the most rewarding and wonderful experiences we can have, and yet even the best-behaved puppies can sometimes test our resolve and patience. When you stop to think about it, there are actually several requisite traits common both to being the Leader of the Free World and being a dog owner: consistency, patience, perseverance, fairness, a sense of responsibility and compassion.

As Americans (I became a citizen in 2005), we choose our leaders based on their ability to both inspire us and lead us by example, and it is very exciting for me to see such a responsible, smart family in the ultimate position of leadership, even where dog ownership is concerned. That's why I'm thrilled to see that as new dog owners, the Obamas are following the ever-growing movement away from outdated dominance-based training theories and towards the scientifically-based positive reinforcement ideologies.

As Americans (I became a citizen in 2005), we choose our leaders based on their ability to both inspire us and lead us by example, and it is very exciting for me to see such a responsible, smart family in the ultimate position of leadership, even where dog ownership is concerned. That's why I'm thrilled to see that as new dog owners, the Obamas are following the ever-growing movement away from outdated dominance-based training theories and towards the scientifically-based positive reinforcement ideologies.

For far too long, dog owners in the US have been relating to their dogs using punitive training techniques under the premise that in order to have a well-behaved, obedient dog, they have to first teach the dog to 'submit' to them, often using the threat of punishment or fear to achieve results. Positive reinforcement training methods demonstrate that these old ideologies are not just highly flawed, they are also potentially damaging to both dog and owner, and that following modern scientific research (and general common sense!) is much more successful in achieving true balance with your dog.

By learning to 'think dog' and see the world from the dog's perspective, an owner can begin to truly appreciate a dog's life experience. Only then can the owner teach the dog effectively and treat the true root cause of any misbehavior while building a relationship based on trust and respect instead of fear. A truly effective leader is one that can persuade others to trust and follow him (or her) without having to threaten the use of force or intimidation, and it certainly appears that President Obama aspires to that goal not only in the political world, but as a responsible dog owner as well.

As a lifelong advocate of rescue shelters and the work they do giving unwanted dogs second, third and sometimes fourth chances at finding a forever home, I was interested to see what would end up resulting from the First Family's extensive search. As we all know, Malia's allergies severely limited the choices available to the Obamas when looking for their dog. In his earliest comments about what type of dog they would get, President Obama made it clear that he would have preferred to help one of the millions of unwanted shelter dogs in the US.

They focused their search on Portuguese Water Dogs because of their reputation as a 'hypo-allergenic' breed (no breed of dog has scientifically been proven to be hypoallergenic, though certain breeds such as the PWD do seem to elicit reduced or sometimes nonexistent reactions in allergy sufferers).

As it turns out, while they did get Bo from a registered breeder, he still somewhat fit the description of a 'second chance' dog since his original home (to another Washington D.C. family) didn't work out.

The fact that Bo's breeder took him back from the original family and continued to search for an appropriate home for him is also encouraging, as many 'back-yard' or puppy mill breeders will refuse such an arrangement as the well-being of the dogs they breed is their very last concern.

Puppies like Bo can very often take a few tries before landing in the perfect home, especially puppies of high-energy breeds such as the Portuguese Water Dog. I have every faith that the Obamas have done their homework before settling on Bo and welcoming him to the White House, but even the most prepared and responsible owners can be met with unforeseen challenges when adapting to life with a happy, bounding puppy.

Read on to get a few tips for the Obamas and new owners that will help to ensure that any puppy will adapt successfully to living in a new domestic environment.

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