If dogs ruled the world, there would be a lot more poop around. It is distasteful to us, but to a dog , fascination with pee and poop isn’t being vulgar or disgusting! Dogs live by their noses and to a dog there are no “bad” smells — only smells that give more or less information. And I suspect the “smellier” the smell, the more info there is to smell!
So that’s why a polite greeting in dogdom is butt sniffing. I saw a cartoon many years ago that summed it up. An adult dog was speaking to a puppy with two other adult dogs in the background. The adult dog said something like, “Junior, I raised you to be polite! You go right on over to the Fidos and smell their butts!”
That’s why dogs want to sniff our crotches. It’s a polite, non-threatening greeting and tells them a lot about us! Dogs get a lot of info about another being from their backside; residual pee, poop, farts, anal glands, the whole works. Apparently, dog’s noses are so good that they can tell health, reproductive status, dominance level and a bunch of other things just from sniffing you-know-what.
That’s also why dogs like to stop and sniff and mark objects on a walk. They are reading “pee mail” and sending their own messages. Dogs poop on walks to lay claim to territory. When they scratch backwards near the pile, they aren’t trying to cover it up (like a cat would do) but creating “markers” pointing the way to their “deposit!” Some dogs, mine included, seem to scratch not just to mark the spot, but to throw the poop over a greater distance. I wonder if this is deliberate, or just a by-product of over-enthusiastic scraping?
When I have a lot of dogs boarding or here for daycare, I make sure I pick up the poop several times a day. I think it relieves some stress because the yard smells less like multiple dogs are claiming it. I also find that when I’m using the ole poope-scooper, the other dogs seem to mirror me and sniff around, not paying a great deal of attention to each other. According to many dog experts, mirroring behavior is a sign of acceptance and pacification to other dogs. And dogs tend to mirror what the leader is doing. So maybe I’ve accidentally accessed poop power without leaving my own deposits!
When it comes time to get a dog, almost everyone (I did myself) seems to want a puppy. After dealing with mine and coaching lots of people through the upheaval and training of theirs, I really wonder WHY!
Yes, they’re cute as the dickens. All puppies have that blunt-faced, waddling baby-ness that our DNA is programmed to find adorable and which pushes our “nuture” buttons. However, we humans are supposedly thinking creatures that should be able to project a reasonable forecst of what bringing a baby canine into our household will mean. Even without previous experience, common sense should allow us to calculate that our lives are going disrupted by that wiggling bundle of cuteness for about a year!
Now, a year really isn’t very long, and training a puppy really isn’t very hard — it just takes a lot of effort and energy. It leaves very little energy for other things that we’re used to being able to do. A puppy in the house doesn’t allow for crashing in front of a TV every night — right when most puppies get an insane burst of energy affectionately known as the puppy crazies! A puppy in the house doesn’t allow for much sleeping in, unless you want to get up to a puddle! A puppy in the house doesn’t allow us to continue those untidy habits of leaving our shoes and other favorite things strewn about in comfortable disarray!
In fact, having a puppy in the house means nearly 24-hour attention. It means arranging our schedules around the needs of the little fluff-balls. It means re-arranging the entire house to make sure the puppy stays safe. It means finding time in our busy lives to teach her manners and how to be well-behaved. It means getting up off our comfortable bottoms and making sure that live wire gets enough walks and play sessions to tire her out — or nobody will sleep!
Too many kennels in too many shelters are filled with too many dogs 6 months to 16 months of age. These are the growing puppies whose owners couldn’t find the time in their busy schedules to give them the attention they needed. Who assumed puppies were as easy to potty train as kittens. Who remembered the good manners of their old dog and forgot that it took a lot of work to teach her those manners.
Puppies are precious. Puppies pull at our heart-strings. Puppies might WANT to please us, but they can’t guess how to do that. Like children, they must be carefully taught — which takes TIME! Please don’t purchase a puppy from anyone but a breeder that asks you dozens of questions about where and how and when you’re going to care for the dog. Please consider adopting an adult dog that will still require attention, exercise and a little training, but won’t have the voracious needs of a baby dog. Please find a professional to help you if you find your puppy (or adult dog) in behavior that you are not able to control or train on your own. Your puppy deserves no less.