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Updated: May 1, 2023

Cohabitation can be a challenge when one party sees things differently from the other. Most roommates and couples deal with plenty of irritations stemming from a disconnect between that which makes sense for one making no sense for the other.

It may make perfect sense for person A to leave a bowl, spoon and mug in the sink after breakfast because there will be more time later to wash, dry and put away or load into the dishwasher. Person B, on the other hand, sees no reason to leave something in the sink when it can just as easily be washed and put away or placed into the dishwasher immediately after use.

Great conflict arises from these types of disconnects. Civilized people can generally reach a compromise, but occasionally seemingly insignificant differences can lead to significant conflict.

Enter the dog. A roommate of a different species.

Behaviors that are perfectly logical to a dog can be the source of great consternation for humans with whom they cohabit.

It is perfectly logical for a dog to help himself to food that is within reach. It is perfectly logical to a dog to investigate trash. It is perfectly logical to a dog to dig in the ground. It is perfectly logical to a dog to eliminate on a surface that feels or smells “right” to him.

What is a human to do?

The short answer: teach the dog what is acceptable behavior in a human/canine cohabitation arrangement. The specifics of how to accomplish this are not for a short blog post. However, it is quite doable and involves a combination of management (controlling the environment) and training (changing behavior over time).

More importantly, recognize that dogs think differently than humans. It’s never ok to punish a creature for being what they are. Yelling at a dog who helps himself to available food, digs in the garden, paws through the trash or eliminates in the wrong place does one thing: hurts your relationship with the dog.'

Do yourself a favor by learning how to set your dog up for success in your world. Learn how to manage his environment so he can live in your world and still be a dog. Learn how to speak “dog” so that your shared life is enriched for both you and your best friend.


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