When we got our puppy, we had a beautiful vision of our life as a family of three. Hikes, dog parks, frolicking along the trail by our house. We would take her to puppy school and train her to be The Best Dog – so friendly and welcoming!!
The first six months of Daisy’s life were almost that. She was inquisitive, friendly, fluffy and adorable. She loved puppy school and made new friends on her thrice-daily walks.
And then something happened and she remained deeply loyal and snuggly with us. But, us only. Her pack narrowed significantly to Frank and I, my parents, and friends she saw frequently.
Her bark became deep and she became suspicious of strangers in the park. We continued with the classes and she passed all but the barking portion.
When I was pregnant with Bea, Daisy became even more protective, giving a preemptive growl as we walked. When Bea was born, she wasn’t as protective but definitely had a new mission. Her skepticism toward others increased with Elle’s arrival.
My initial response when Daisy barks at the doorbell is to apologize profusely. I want her to be friendly and loving toward everyone. But I’m realizing (especially after she made some salespeople uncomfortable enough to leave with a shortened pitch) that having a protective dog isn’t a bad thing. (Especially during tax season!)
If a dog is your first (or only) child, then the parenting lesson I’ve learned from Daisy is that I can offer lessons and skills to be socially acceptable. I can guide and discipline and parent to the best of my ability. But I also need to recognize Daisy’s innate nature. She is a dog and she is wired to protect her family. That’s what she was made to do.
I’ve grappled with how to raise strong, independent, inquisitive daughters. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far. But I’m also learning to recognize and encourage the things they love without me – the princesses and warriors and books and running. I’m learning that whatever my girls are interested in, whatever innate skills they have, my job is to encourage and cultivate and help them do it in a socially appropriate manner.
And maybe, the biggest lesson I’m learning is that we were given three feisty girls to raise. As challenging as that can be, it’s also a pretty cool adventure.
Are you a dog owner? Are your dogs your kids? How does your dog parenting style line up with your human parenting style?
Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “protect.”