I love dogs. There are a couple of breeds I would eventually like to own, but for now I am perfectly happy with our lovable Lab.
Our Lab helps keep me centered. It probably sounds silly, but if I can calmly and assertively give directions to the dog, I am better able to handle whatever the kids throw at me. I thoroughly enjoy taking the dog for a walk after the kids are asleep. This allows me to recenter myself and let go of whatever happened during the day. I let go of the tension in the leash, walk briskly and enjoy the fresh air and the pant of my fat dog.
I have been watching a lot (any by "a lot" I mean one or two episodes every other day or so) of the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan lately. His whole thing is to project a calm, assertive energy in order to become the pack leader. He also recommends treating a dog like a dog and spaying and neutering to get rid of the added frustration of not being able to mate.
I get it. I love our dog, but there's no way in the world I'm going to allow her to jump up on people, pee all over the house or steal food off of my plate while I'm sitting at the table. Our dog is a dog and is treated at such. She is very much a member of our family, but she is in her crate at certain times throughout the day and has to work for things like food and attention.
Bridget has become a respectful dog. She checks on all of the kids while they are sleeping and does not lay on the bed until I go to sleep. Bridget always knows where the kids are and what they are doing and will get me if necessary. She obeys commands from the kids, as long as they aren't screaming, and will even wait to eat in the morning until Oren gives her permission.
So....TRAIN YOUR DOG. If you are buying a puppy, get the one that is a middle level energy. The puppy that is jumping on you or acting crazy and spunky, is not the one that is going to be easy to train. Buy the dog that is a bit more mellow, but still curious. Find a good breeder or go to your local animal shelter. We went to a breeder and I have absolutely no regrets. Bridget is a perfect example of a Labrador, in both body type and temperament.
And for the love of Pete, treat your dog like a dog. Please. None of that wishy-washy "no" or "get down". Say it and mean it. Dogs are great at sensing weakness and will walk all over you if you let them. I am especially talking to anyone who owns or is thinking about owning a small, pocket sized dog. Dogs are not people and do not need to be carried around all day or protected. This will lead to disaster. In fact, don't buy a small, pocket sized dog at all if you are even remotely thinking about putting it in a purse. A dog needs to be allowed to be a dog, but you have to provide boundaries and rules.
Stepping off of my soapbox....