Regular Order According to the Dog

All actions by my humans must be done the same way every day.

Just as the sun rises and sets each day, our canine companions feel that their humans should also keep the same schedule and become disquieted when we are not compliant with what they view as the natural rhythm of the world. It is considered unacceptable when food times, out times, play and cuddle times are missed. Visitors, mailmen, delivery guys, etc., may be tolerated; but added considerations in the way of increased attention are demanded when major lifestyle changes occur. As language is only partly effective, body contact is often needed to help overcome changes in place, activities or human interactions. Ultimately such changes may be adjusted to by our pets, but such processes take time, work and pet-human interactions to be truly successful.

Failure to fully appreciate this law may result in punishment exacted by the dog on their human’s belongings such as chewing up items of clothing, destroying furniture, pulling down curtains, or leaving fecal deposits in travel areas. Sulking, refusal to respond to commands, distain or even hostility towards their human’s friends and lovers along with sudden nighttime bed invasions are not unusual responses to what dogs see as unwarranted disruptions of their accustomed lifestyles.

It follows that changes in their caregivers either through death, separation of puppies or a dog being given by one person to another is a considerable disruption of a dog’s sense of order. The dog’s heritage as a pack animal has given them some genetic preparation for living in a changing environment, but when human companions change their reactions may change from instant acceptance to extreme hostility. This transition is easier when the dogs are puppies and becomes harder to successfully accomplish as they become older and “sot in their ways” to use a Southernism.

The case of Hector and Paris

These were two male dogs that someone put out at a local dumpster. When I found them they were starving, wet pups; but they had been sufficiently adapted to humans that they allowed me to catch them and take them home. Hera, a female yellow Lab who was another dumpster rescue, would have nothing to do with the pups and abandoned me to go live with my sister and brother-in-law next door. I got them their shots, had them nurtured and raised them to they were about a year old. With me they learned the basics of being indoor-outdoor country dogs, but took to going on private explorations that resulted in me having to rescue them from the pound and complaints from people who lived as far as two miles away.

I did not want to keep them continuously confined, but if I did not they would escape and have their “adventures.” My only solution was to separate them or put Paris, who had the classic look of a small pit bull, down. His brother Hector, who had more of the appearance of a small black Lab with a white blaze, was, I thought, not the instigator of this wanderlust and the one of the two I would keep. Because of the poor reputation of pit bulls as a breed, I was having considerable trouble trying to find him a home. I reached the point where I was going on a foreign trip and had decided to have him put to sleep if I could not find a new home for him before I left.

A chance encounter with a check-out lady revealed that she once had a pit bull that was extremely affectionate, and that she might take Paris if he had something of the same temperament. As it turned out he did. He was loving and liked nothing better than to be held in someone’s lap. It was almost as if he wanted to crawl into your skin with you. Fortunately, the two hit it off, and Paris found a new loving home which he shares with some cats that he also gets along with.

Hector did not know where his brother went or what happened to him. He obviously looked for his kennel mate in the house and outside. I was fearful that he might go out into the woods to widen his search, but he stayed close to home. He was not without canine companionship as he did visit Hera and my Sister’s two dogs next door from time to time, and developed a play-date relationship with Half-Dog Fred who sometimes came to visit from his home a couple of miles away. I would take Fred home when he visited, typically in stormy weather; and his owners reciprocated when Hector showed up over there. All told, it took Hector four days to really adjust to Paris’ absence.

After a year’s separation what would happen if they saw each other now? I do not know if Hector would recognize Paris. My suspicion is probably not initially, but after they went through the usual doggy recognition ritual with nose and butt sniffing, I think that they might. I know dogs remember people that they know after an absence of more than a year, so I would thing with both visual and smell clews, they would remember dogs as well.

In brief, if you want a happy dog, establish your daily routines and keep them.

Author's Bio: 

Wm. Hovey Smith is a registered Professional Geologist in Georgia. He is also a member of several writers’ organizations including the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association (GOWA). He is the author of 18 books with his most recent title being “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife.” He has been a radio host and does public speaking on work and environmental topics with appearances in the U.S., Europe and China. He is an active blogger and the producer of over 725 YouTube videos on outdoor and business topics.