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Wondering What Makes a ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ Dog?

Sitting at the dog park recently I found myself thinking, “What makes a ‘good’ dog good? What makes a ‘bad’ dog Bad?”

My first dog, Winston, was the easiest dog I have ever owned. He instinctively understood that the grass outside was the best place to do his business, rather than marking the rugs or corners in my house. He learned his name quickly and could he my voice from a mile away. He was intuitively good mannered, and smart to boot. Everyone who knew and loved Winston called him a “good boy”. My good boy was with me for 15 years and never disobeyed me or let me down.

Then there was Tinker. Tinker was my second dog, and was as opposite Winston as night is day. Tinker could not keep her paws, or snout, or teeth out of my things. Taking care of Tinker was like watching a mischievous toddler with a very large teeth and an insatiable desire to teethe. She seemed to like getting me all worked up, and was very much a puppy for all of her 10 years. Despite her naughty streak, Tinker too had many friends. She was such a fun-loving dog that she attracted a lot of attention from children in the neighborhood, and adults were equally likely to be excited to see her and her wagging tail.

So both of my dogs were loved, and despite Tinker’s unruly temperament, I still thought she was a pretty awesome dog. Neither of my dogs was mean. If you’ve ever met a truly mean do, you probably also experienced the fear that can flood you in this situation if you are not separated by a fence. There is a general belief in the dog-owning community that dogs become mean when they are treated badly. The trick, then, to having a ‘good’ dog seems to be love. If you love your dog (and train them of course), your dog will return that love many times over.