Two weeks ago I was dogsitting my friend’s 6 month-old Corgi, Bay, for a week. I had never owned a dog prior to that, let alone dog-sitting. I love dogs though. They’re smart, loyal, and they make awesome companions to us humans. I was hesitant at first but with the help of my man I could pretty much master dog-sitting in a matter of one day! Dog-sitting was no simple task but I got lucked out because my friend’s dog was an obedient fur-kid. He made it easy for a first-timer like me to take care of him. That one week experience gave me the idea of the kind of commitment one should consider when owning a dog. Owning a dog (and generally all pets) requires good leadership skills but people often dismiss this. Owning a dog teaches you a lot more things than you think. Leadership is one of them. You’ll be surprised at the things that your dog “teaches” you about being a great leader.
Here’s what I learned so far:
Dogs are like people. If you want to lead them, get to know them first.
Dogs and people share some things in common; they’re social creatures and they all have different personalities. If you want them to follow your lead, you have to put the effort to get to know them. From there you’ll then be able to establish effective communication with your dogs. Bay was an active boy with a gentle personality. I tried a bunch of ways to communicate with him but I quickly found out that he obeyed more if I was in a calm state. An aggressive approach like yelling would scare him away.
Quick Tips: Be mindful of your mood because dogs can pick up your vibe. Observe your dogs when they’re around different people and watch how your dogs react to them. Are they scared? Excited? Their response can tell you a lot about your dog.
They remind us to be discipline and responsible
Being a dog owner is a full-time commitment and we have to be on top of our game. This is where discipline comes into play. If at first I only had myself and my man to take care of, now I had Bay and it meant serious business. Dogs need us as their leader to take care of them. Think about their meal time, potty time, exercise and walk, crate training, etc. Does that sound too much? Gotta be honest, it does. And that’s how time management skill comes in handy. At times I had to compromise my schedule in order to accommodate Bay’s schedules. However, this doesn’t mean I had to revolve my entire schedule around his. I only needed to cut off less important activities. Once I’ve synced out our schedules, I made sure I sticked with it. For example, I always had Bay exercise and eat around the same time frame everyday. By doing this I’ve established routines that benefited both Bay and I. I only had so much time to spare when Bay was around so I made sure I was always on time otherwise I would ruin my schedules.
Quick Tips: Give your dog incentives for good behavior and you certainly don’t need to go military discipline on your dogs. I don’t believe in fear-based training like hitting or any physical punishment that induces fear.
Patience is a virtue
If there’s one thing that I so dread to do is teaching. I can’t, for the life of me, teach people…or dog for this matter. It’s the skill that I need the most work on. However, I somehow succeeded at teaching some basic dog tricks and manners to Bay. I’m telling you, patience works like magic. It might be hard at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be thankful you do it. Has teaching your dog gotten on your nerves? I feel ya, I was there. But I always go by the rule of less yelling, more patience. Dogs needs to be taught repetitively until they understand our commands. Some dogs take longer than others but with extra patience they’ll get where you want them to be.
Quick Tips: Be firm on your commands without raising your voice. If your dog doesn’t understand your commands after a few tries, yelling won’t make them understand your language more. It drains us more than it teaches them. If you have to, take a few breaths and start all over.
Persistence is a virtue too
This part definitely comes hand in hand with patience. Well-trained dogs can’t be what they are overnight. Behind them are persistent owners who commit in giving the best training for their dogs every darn day. Kudos to dog owners out there who put their time and energy for your fur friends! I personally found dog-sitting challenging but it’s also a rewarding experience. It’s important to always keep that “don’t give up” mentality the whole time.
Quick Tips: Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go as expected. And definitely don’t blame your dog either. Always shower your dog with love no matter what. If your dog has been naughty, observe first before giving them punishment. I caught Bay biting our our couch several times and it was so frustrating! I figured he might have been bored so I gave him extra exercise time everyday and guess what, he stopped biting! YAY.
Confidence takes you far
Out of everything mentioned, the biggest leadership lesson I learned from dog-sitting is confidence. As I said earlier, I had my doubts before taking the responsibility to dog-sit Bay. Those doubts came from my zero dog-sitting experience. Turns out dog-sitting wasn’t as hard as I thought. As soon as I took that first step, I gained more confidence. Confidence comes when we step outside of our comfort zone.
Quick Tips: If you’re unsure about something, always ask for help! Teaching dogs takes practice. Allow some room for mistakes and learn from them. You’ll be fine!
Now that Bay is back with his own momma I can go back to my normal life! Would I ever want to have a dog? To be honest no, not for now. As much as I enjoy dogsitting and very much love being with dogs, I don’t have the time to commit. It won’t be fair to the dog if I can’t be with them 70% of the time. I will consider getting one (perhaps adopt a rescued dog) if I see the possibility some time in the future.
Are you a dog owner? What can you learn from your dog? Share in the comment below! Until next time peeps!