You will often hear me say this, or at least some form of it (you also might hear me say let a cat be a cat, ect). What does this actually mean?
We live in a world where our pets are a huge part of our lives. I often will hear couples who cannot have children of their own state that their pet is their child. I agree with this statement fully. I have 2 human children and also consider my 4 leggeds my children as well. But, they are my 4 legged children and I do not let myself treat them as anything but.
Qwerty, Rya’c and Kiwi are my adoptive children, and they have special needs. Those needs being the needs of a dog or cat. They do not have the same needs as my 3 year old daughter or 3 month old son. Although sometimes I see many similarities, they are not all the same species.
German Shorthaired Pointers need to run, in open fields. They need to hunt (or in Qwerty’s case at lease be allowed to use his hunting instincts). Without these things their mental health deteriorates. You start seeing things such as destructive behaviors, severe separation anxiety, ect. Every breed has specific need that need to be met for their happiness, if those needs aren’t met they don’t have a sense of purpose.
When you let an animal into your life, you must accept there will be a level of compromise, like any other relationship. If you get a low energy dog and expect it to train for marathons with you, neither one of you will be very happy in that situation. If you get a high energy dog and you want it to sit at your feet when you are working, you will probably end up with a destroyed house (Haha, mostly kidding). What you need to do is find out what activities your dog enjoys the most and let them do that. Qwerty likes to run and sniff. Thus we take him to the dog park where he can do both. I will admit I am not always the most active person, I do love my Netflix and video games, but I wanted a GSP more than anything, so I get my butt off the couch and make sure he gets what he needs to be physically and mentally happy.
It is my opinion that the reason we are starting to see more anxiety with dogs (and cats) is because we are putting too many expectations on them to be more human like. We dress them up, we teach them how to smile, wave, and other things that are just not really natural for them. Yes, they are good sports and they will go along with it because they love us, but at some point we have to give a little in their direction too.
Even if you have a tiny dog, they are still a dog. They WANT to do things dog like. Maybe not to the extent of my GSP, but they would probably enjoy a little time walking in the grass, sniffing, using their senses. I see so many little dogs who have been treated like human children that tend to nip, bite, and be fearful in situations they are not familiar with. Ways to prevent this from happening are by socializing them with other DOGS at a young age. I know they seem small and fragile, but I promise if you let them play with other puppies their size they will learn things that we humans just cannot teach them! The more we get them around other dogs when they are little the more well rounded they will be. And sometimes just let your little dog run in the grass and dirt and get a little dirty, they will enjoy it!
Cats need places to perch and “hunt”. Its important to have plenty of spaces for them to be higher up. If a cat does not have a safe place, it causes anxiety and that can lead to things like aggression and even urinating and defecating outside the litter box. We also have places by the windows that they can look out and bird watch. It is actually important to play with your cats too, or at least have toys available they they can utilize their hunting instincts. Or give them safe spaces to go outside (I do not condone the practice of letting cats run around the neighborhood without boundaries) Some people will build a “catio” or a fenced in portion of their yard where their cat can explore outside safely. As odd as it sounds, sometimes cats do enjoy activity, even if its only 30 minutes a day.
So, what does it mean to Let a Dog Be a Dog? Just put aside a small amount of time every day to let them let loose and do the things that THEY enjoy. It’s the least we can do for every thing they give us.