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I'm curious because I've seen this phrasing in a couple of posts recently. One person stated that they thought doggie daycare was great because it gave the dog a chance to be a dog. Another person stated that they walk their dog off leash because they want to let their dog just be a dog. What does it mean to just let a dog be a dog exactly?
 

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I think it really depends on the individual dog. My dog needs to run at full tilt. If he couldn't he would not be using his greatest physical quality and I believe he would not be being his true dog self.

Now, my sister-in-law has a mini poodle that does just fine having just a yard and leash walks but, when he visits us in Vermont, he gets to run off-leash and explore the woods with Cherokee and he seems more like a real dog. He becomes a bold adventurer, using all his doggie faculties to their fullest. Almost all of his neurotic traits disappear (he has lots of them).

I feel very fortunate that I live in a place where I can let my dog be a dog and don't always have to have him leashed to me. He does just fine on a leash but, he is most glorious when allowed to explore and use his body in full motion.
 

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I know around here "letting a dog be a dog" is having it as a family pet (usually that goes on 1 walk a month or something ridiculous like that) and not doing anything past basic training with them.

No one's actually used the phrase to me about Marge, but I do get some quizzical expressions when I told them we were taking the CGC and going ahead with Rally/Agility.. one woman asked me, "Why do you want all that for her?"

Oh.. conformation showing is like the ultimate evil to non-dog people.. especially dogs with difficult coats.. people seem to be under the impression that they can NEVER 'be' dogs.

ETA that I do lots of doggy dog things with my dog too.. visits to the park, romps on the beach.. oh, she even has the occasional litterbox vacation :rolleyes: But when I start talking about my goals and accomplishments for her people can start getting a little weirded out
 

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I suppose it means different things to different people. To me, it means giving a dog credit for his extraordinary abilities and his substantial intellectual limitations (compared to humans). Dogs are social predators, and they need to exercise their predator skills. They also need constant feedback from the other social predators in their lives (us).

Basically, that means the dog is expected to scare the little bunnies, roll in things the odor of which would gag a maggot, get muddy, lick their own private parts in front of polite company, and eat things that are still moving. Dogs deserve some time off-leash to follow their noses and make their own choices. They need to understand there are good and bad consequences for the choices they make. Just like us.
 

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To me, it means being as close to nature as possible in that they are more like dogs would be in the wild. It means exercising his prey drive, smelling the scents of the outdoors, rolling in stinky places, speaking and listening to dog body language and celebrating his natural instincts.

It's my observation that some would like to have a dog that didn't have a prey drive, would stay away from nasty smells, get bathed every day, and be more like a person than a dog. Dogs that are trained to behave UNLIKE a dog, that are trained within an inch of their lives without having the opportunity to be free from human constraints, are not being allowed to be dogs, IMO. They're almost imprisoned in a people world.
 

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Basically, that means the dog is expected to scare the little bunnies, roll in things the odor of which would gag a maggot, get muddy, lick their own private parts in front of polite company, and eat things that are still moving. Dogs deserve some time off-leash to follow their noses and make their own choices. They need to understand there are good and bad consequences for the choices they make. Just like us.
I like this "definition" the best...well mannered but just being a dog. Kind of like mine...most of the time...not real sure about the well-mannered part all of the time.
 

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Really good responses! I think for younger dogs it means running, chasing, hunting, following a trail. My senior citizens can't do much of that anymore but they absolutely love being outside with their noses into the wind. They seem to enter Nirvana.
 

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I think the most basic understanding of "letting a dog be a dog" is comprehending that your pet is an animal... not a child or a stuffed animal, but a creature that senses and reacts to the world as an animal would. People who dress their Chis up and carry them everywhere in handbags instead of walking them because "she doesn't like her paws getting dirty"... those owners don't let their dogs be dogs, because we all know that Chi would probably like nothing more than to get its paws dirty. People who hit their dogs for barking, or correct them for licking their own privates... those owners aren't letting their dogs be dogs. People who let their kids grab and yank at their dog's tail, then have the dog put to sleep when it finally nips one of the children aren't letting their dogs be dogs. Dogs are animals.

Then I think there's a greater definition of letting your dog be a dog, which is allowing your dog to love something in life. Whether it's the daily walk, the next agility trial or time spent cuddling in front of the television, dogs should be allowed to express their tremendous love and enthusiasm for the world in some way or another. They can compete in working trials (Libby), conformation (Strauss), never be allowed off-leash (mine) or never get to play with large groups of other, new dogs (Bolo)... but as long as they are given an outlet for their love for life, I think they can still be dogs.
 

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I think the most basic understanding of "letting a dog be a dog" is comprehending that your pet is an animal... not a child or a stuffed animal, but a creature that senses and reacts to the world as an animal would. People who dress their Chis up and carry them everywhere in handbags instead of walking them because "she doesn't like her paws getting dirty"... those owners don't let their dogs be dogs, because we all know that Chi would probably like nothing more than to get its paws dirty. People who hit their dogs for barking, or correct them for licking their own privates... those owners aren't letting their dogs be dogs. People who let their kids grab and yank at their dog's tail, then have the dog put to sleep when it finally nips one of the children aren't letting their dogs be dogs. Dogs are animals.
I think one of the problems with 'pet culture' in this day and age is that it's become difficult for many people to know how to think of their pet. They're more than 'just an animal', and we make them part of our families, but they also cannot be treated like human babies. There's a good medium between the two that is the best of both worlds without stifling the dog's natural desires and happiness. There's a reason those poor teacup Chis are so neurotic... because treating a dog that way makes it unhappy and codependent. To realize your dog is an mature adult animal, and needs a certain amount of mental and physical activity to be happy, is something some pet owners can't seem to comprehend.
 

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I think people think it means letting dogs get filthy, eat nasty things, roll in dirt, run around, play with other dogs, bark, etc...

To a degree, I agree that dogs should be allowed to engage in some of these activities on a regular basis (especially if the dog is the type that craves these things). I would never allow a house dog to do any of those things inside my home (or enter my home after doing the dirty ones, without a bath) but I always made sure the dogs I had who required such exercise got it daily- including the daily clean up! Hard work... to have a clean house and happy dogs is not always easy.

My old Rigby has no interest in any of those things- he prefers to be a loner with just me and take quiet walks and just sniff and run a bit on his own. He hates getting wet or dirty. Lucky me!

He is highly trained, but allowed to be himself.
 

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I know around here "letting a dog be a dog" is having it as a family pet (usually that goes on 1 walk a month or something ridiculous like that) and not doing anything past basic training with them.

No one's actually used the phrase to me about Marge, but I do get some quizzical expressions when I told them we were taking the CGC and going ahead with Rally/Agility.. one woman asked me, "Why do you want all that for her?"

Oh.. conformation showing is like the ultimate evil to non-dog people.. especially dogs with difficult coats.. people seem to be under the impression that they can NEVER 'be' dogs.

ETA that I do lots of doggy dog things with my dog too.. visits to the park, romps on the beach.. oh, she even has the occasional litterbox vacation :rolleyes: But when I start talking about my goals and accomplishments for her people can start getting a little weirded out
I know! I don't get why people think it's so strange to want a well trained dog. I mean, if a dog is well behaved, it can go anywhere with you and do anything, and that's really what dogs want- to be with their people.

I wouldn't get a dog only to stick in the back yard. We have neighbors that do that, and I just don't get it.

As for the conformation showing, I've gotten that alot, too. People think it's strange because they don't understand it. People really have no idea why structure and type are so important to a dog, but that's another tangent. ;) I'll spare you all.

To be honest, for me personally, I have no interest in having human children. Thank Dog my boyfriend also isn't interested in children. I'm an older student, and he's well established, so we pretty much know what we want at this ppoint in our lives. So, when I get out of school, I'll have lots of time and energy and money to devote to my dogs.

OK, and back on to what the OP was saying (sorry for the ramble, LOL)

I would think that a dog being a "dog" is when they have a bit of room to run, bones to chew on, and doggie friends to wrestle with. I mean, I've seen sammy puppies play HARD with eachother, and most human's don't tolerate having their ears and feet chewed on. ;)

I would guess its those moments when a dog can be himself or herself. Maybe for some dogs that would be pulling a sled or herding sheep. Maybe for some dogs it is in a pack environment, or running all over the place with out a leash on.

I know people say that dogs seem happiest when they are with their people, but I think it must be relaxing to them to be with others of their own kind and use the same language queues that they do.
 

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Bolo gets to run and play with other dogs(that she is acclimated to) off leash(in fully contained areas).

I think letting a dog be a dog means letting them have the kind of freedom that's suitable to the individual situation. Bolo is inclined to be aggressive towards new dogs so no..she doesn't get to run off leash where I don't have control of the situation.

BUT she is allowed many freedoms other dogs don't have.

she knows she gets fed twice a day..but its whenever she targets her food bowl that I feed her. she's telling me she is hungry enough to eat.

she gets the freedom of choosing when we walk or when we go blading. she picks up her harness and brings it to me..telling me she wants to pull.

she brings me her dumbell when she wants to go tracking.

and many things of that nature.

for safety's sake I can't let her run around..both her safety and that of other dogs...but she does have many freedoms.
 

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Bolo gets to run and play with other dogs(that she is acclimated to) off leash(in fully contained areas).

I think letting a dog be a dog means letting them have the kind of freedom that's suitable to the individual situation. Bolo is inclined to be aggressive towards new dogs so no..she doesn't get to run off leash where I don't have control of the situation.

BUT she is allowed many freedoms other dogs don't have.

she knows she gets fed twice a day..but its whenever she targets her food bowl that I feed her. she's telling me she is hungry enough to eat.

she gets the freedom of choosing when we walk or when we go blading. she picks up her harness and brings it to me..telling me she wants to pull.

she brings me her dumbell when she wants to go tracking.

and many things of that nature.

for safety's sake I can't let her run around..both her safety and that of other dogs...but she does have many freedoms.
I was never implying that Bolo isn't free... you know I wouldn't! The whole point of my post was that Bolo may never get to go to doggie daycare or the dog park, but that doesn't mean she can't be a dog because that's not what defines a dog. As long as she has the freedom to express her love for things that she takes pleasure in... like blading or tracking... she is just as much a "dog" as Tankstar's Blaze who goes to the dog park regularly. Just like my dogs will never have the chance to run free offleash, but because I do allow them to take joy in life through other means instead of just tying them up in the backyard all day, they are just as much dogs as Cherokee is.
 

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To me, it means being as close to nature as possible in that they are more like dogs would be in the wild. It means exercising his prey drive, smelling the scents of the outdoors, rolling in stinky places, speaking and listening to dog body language and celebrating his natural instincts.
This is my view exactly.

Wally hasn't (yet) rolled in anything stinky (though he like to walk through mud patches *sigh*) but everything else he does, both on his own and what he can with me, given my inabilities as a human to "be a dog".

I also believe in off-leash control for Wally as much as safely/legally possible (given the constructs of the human world and it's laws that often don't care about the needs/instincts of our canine companions) and if two dogs were exploring, one wouldn't be holding the other by a leash. I think us staying in sync and exploring and playing together like that is as close to natural as I can be with him.

Sometimes he's a canuman (canine acting by human wishes) and sometimes I'm a humine (human acting as much canine as possible) - I think it's as close as I can get short of him having his own fun/exploring, which he also enjoys and gets to do, especially when outside.
 

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I think it means recognizing and respecting that they are canines and not furry humans. I don't think this recognition in any way diminishes the important roles they play in our lives.

I'll admit I'm a little squimish when people refer to their dogs as "fur-kids."

I'm fine with dogs that shed. I've generally had ones that shed with gusto. I don't dislike dog smell. In fact, the smell of a wet dog is one of my happy smells because it generally comes from a really happy time. I don't mind that they dig gigantic holes in my yard, though we nearly lost a miniature schnauzer in one of them.

I get nervous when someone announces that they are looking for a dog that doesn't shed, get dirty, demand exercise, smell like a dog, bark, wolf its food, chase squirrels or act too "needy." The dog they don't want is my dream dog. The dog they do want is a hairless cat.
 

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Basically, that means the dog is expected to scare the little bunnies, roll in things the odor of which would gag a maggot, get muddy, lick their own private parts in front of polite company, and eat things that are still moving. Dogs deserve some time off-leash to follow their noses and make their own choices.
Yep, my thoughts exactly! I take my dogs out in to the country once in a while so they can do all of that.

It's my observation that some would like to have a dog that didn't have a prey drive, would stay away from nasty smells, get bathed every day, and be more like a person than a dog. Dogs that are trained to behave UNLIKE a dog, that are trained within an inch of their lives without having the opportunity to be free from human constraints, are not being allowed to be dogs, IMO. They're almost imprisoned in a people world.
Hehe, I like to ask owners of dogs like that to let me take their dogs "walking" with my dogs, and then I let them do all the stuff described above ^^ , LOL. Just call me the dog corruptor.

Though I know dogs can be highly trained and still "be dogs", all the "well-trained" dogs I've know were more like robots than dogs. It's given me a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to training. I know I'm just not a good enough trainer to get a well-trained dog that's not a robot (my own fault), but still, I'm a bit turned off by the whole "training" thing.
 

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I think it means recognizing and respecting that they are canines and not furry humans. I don't think this recognition in any way diminishes the important roles they play in our lives.

I'll admit I'm a little squimish when people refer to their dogs as "fur-kids."

I'm fine with dogs that shed. I've generally had ones that shed with gusto. I don't dislike dog smell. In fact, the smell of a wet dog is one of my happy smells because it generally comes from a really happy time. I don't mind that they dig gigantic holes in my yard, though we nearly lost a miniature schnauzer in one of them.

I get nervous when someone announces that they are looking for a dog that doesn't shed, get dirty, demand exercise, smell like a dog, bark, wolf its food, chase squirrels or act too "needy." The dog they don't want is my dream dog. The dog they do want is a hairless cat.
I'm with you. My current dog may hate water, but when I was younger the family dog was a Golden and she LIVED for water, we all knew she was at her happiest while swimming or retrieving wet tennis balls.

I love the last paragraph, that really made me smile! :)
 

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the "well-trained" dogs I've know were more like robots than dogs
So let's talk about the goal, and role, of training.

One of my favorite dogs of all time was a Husky whose owner, a very nice guy, worked extremely hard with her. She was not allowed to run or rough-house with the dogs at the dog park. The moment she gave the distinctive little shoulder dip that indicated she was ready to roll in something unsavory, like skunk poop, her owner was right there to prevent it. She was one of the best-trained dogs I've ever seen and I don't believe she suffered for it.

When her owner was out-of-town for a while, I was charged with looking after her. I was thrilled to do it. I adored that dog. I'm afraid I let her (maybe even encouraged her) do many of the things she had previously not been allow to do. We rough-housed (though I learned that's not always wise with a breed that has razor teeth.) We chased the other dogs and barked at them. We rolled in the mud and had a bath. I began to think of myself as her fun uncle.

When her owner returned, it was apparent I hadn't undone her years of training. She still acted the way she always had around her owner, though she went a little nuts when she was around her fun uncle.

I don't think her training diminished her dog-ness. She was a very bright, energetic animal and seemed to thrive on challenges.

But it sure was fun to see her cut loose now and again.
 

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One of my favorite dogs of all time was a Husky whose owner, a very nice guy, worked extremely hard with her. She was not allowed to run or rough-house with the dogs at the dog park. The moment she gave the distinctive little shoulder dip that indicated she was ready to roll in something unsavory, like skunk poop, her owner was right there to prevent it. She was one of the best-trained dogs I've ever seen and I don't believe she suffered for it.
See, in most cases I would probably see that dog more as a "robot"....maybe she didn't really suffer for being well-trained but I don't care for that level of control. But of course I'd have to meet the dog to give an opinion about it. Every situation is different and every dog is different.
 
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