Humans bring dogs into their lives for many reasons. Some want companionship, protection or exercise partners, while others want a therapy dog, agility partner or other dog sport partner. In many cases, the chosen dog can fit the desired “goal” but what happens when your dog is not interested in our “goal”.
We bond with our dogs because they make us laugh, they love us unconditionally, they comfort us during hard times and they become a special part of our family. However, we must be careful to not unfairly put expectations on our dogs.
When the yellow lab Ginger was adopted as a puppy, her mom had planned to do therapy work with her, as she had with Milo (her previous lab). She began training Ginger right away so she would be ready to be a therapy dog when she became an adult. Although Ginger was extremely sweet, she was slow to warm up to people. Ginger naturally avoided strangers until she got to know them.
Ginger’s mom worked with her but she remained shy with new people. Ginger’s mom was distraught and considered re-homing Ginger to find a more suitable therapy dog. After some decision, we decided to have Ginger try agility. Ginger immediately loved the tunnel and some of the other equipment that she tried during her training classes. After just 3 classes Ginger and her mom were hooked. They were having fun together and being a therapy dog was no longer so important.
Dogs have unique personalities and interest, just like people. Just like we can’t force a child, friend or spouse to love a hobby, we cannot force a dog into things that they are not interested in. Instead of forcing your dog to pursue a sport or hobby just because you want it, keep an open mind and try a variety of things. Who knows, you may both find a new interests that you can enjoy together!