Does Your Dog Need A Window With A View?

If you have a dog that perches in the window, peacefully soaking up the sun like a cat while calmly watching the world go by, then you are one of the lucky 1%. (Facts may be over-dramatized to make a point.)  These beautifully curious dogs are totally unaffected by all that is happening on the other side of the glass, never barking or showing any signs of hyper-activity what-so-ever. (That 1% is sounding right on the money right about now.) 

Unfortunately, I rarely find this to be the case. 

Some dogs discover their lookout-station (window sills, backs of sofas, etc.) on their own while others have their perch created for them by their guilt-ridden humans who hate to have to leave their dog home alone. Owners who fall into this category feel like giving their dog a view makes life better for him. But does it? In most cases this could not be farther from the truth. The dog sitting on his perch barking at the mailman, cats, cars and neighbors not only feels frustrated, but also, in many cases, an increased sense of responsibility. As humans, we know that both frustration and an added sense of responsibility both fall under the umbrella of stress.  No fun!

Think of it like this. If you were anything like I was as a child you got sent to your room for misbehaving. It was called being grounded or punished. Having a window with a view of friends playing outside while being locked up in the bedroom would actually increase the punishment, not lessen it. This increases frustration.

Then there's the territorial aspect of it. Territorial dogs will only see the window as another medium to alert them of who is encroaching on their turf which forces them to be on high alert all day long.  This increase in their territorial responsibility.

Both of these mental states cause elevated stress hormone levels, which is just as bad for dogs as it is for humans. And, if we look at this situation in terms of maintaining a balanced home where the dog respects his humans, it can also throw things off. A dog that has too many responsibilities can have an inflated sense of authority as well.  The dog may start to think of himself as self-employed rather than working for the family where the humans are in charge.

So, if this has made you realize that you need to take away your dog's view, don't feel badly about it. Shut those drapes, close those blinds, take away that perch and know that you are actually giving your dog a gift by lowering his sense of responsibility and frustration - hence lowering stress levels. 

You can always alleviate those feelings of guilt by taking him for more walks, joining an agility class or taking Fido with you whenever possible.

Window seats are only for the 1% of those dogs who can totally relax and enjoy the view.

-Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer and Canine Behavior Consultant

© Thriving Canine, 2013