Why do I make such a presumptuous statement? Zuri and I kicked back and watched the world go by and here's what we observed.
A little corgi type dog accompanied his guardians on the shoreline. He didn't make any overtures towards entering the ocean, so one guy picked him up and waded into the water with him. When the corgi was held close to his body, there seemed to be no problem. However, as the corgi was lowered to the water he started to wriggle and struggle. Once in the water, his little legs were paddling furiously. As soon as the guardian released his grip, the little guy turned straight around and headed for shore as fast as he could go, only to be scooped up at the other end and dutifully handed back to the first guardian. The procedure was repeated with great care and, I can only presume, the kindest of intents. After quite a few trials of this, the little corgi began to try and avoid the guy waiting at the shoreline. Finally, when the drop and swim procedure seemed to be over, he trotted away from his guardians and chose to sit far away from the shore line.
A large mastiff type dog was further up, knee knee in water. His female guardian was in front pulling on his lead towards the deeper water. His male guardian stood behind, pushing the dog forward from his rump. The dog stood firm! I asked if they were on Facebook, hoping to direct them to my Dog Charming Page for information. I desperately wanted to help. They looked at me like I was some crazy, friendless person. Of course they said no.
I think you get the picture. This was happening to countless dogs on the beach. Maybe this was their first time at the beach. Maybe they just didn't like going into the water. So many guardians seemed intent on convincing their dog that this was the thing to do - by pretty much forcing them into the water and hoping their dog started having fun.
For me, as a behaviour consultant, it was like watching someone carrying a terrified child into the water and then dropping them in the deep end, hoping they'll get over their fear and learn to love it.
Now Zuri loves wading, but swimming, not so much. She used to swim, but recently prefers to wade. I'd like her to swim, but I'd rather convince her that it's fun than force her. Ultimately, if she chooses not to swim, I'm fine with that. I had some treats and reinforced her for going deeper and deeper. I played with her and made a game of running in and out of the water. She went deeper but didn't swim. We were BOTH having fun.
I waded in and chatted. The dog came up to me and I casually scratched her butt - which sent her into raptures. I moved away and she followed me to get that butt scratch. I moved to deeper water and she swam out to me - to redeem the glory of that butt rub! Who knew that's all it would take? The response from the guardians was "Wow, how did you do that?" Awesome, now I can help because I've been asked. The butt scratch technique worked for them too. So did playing with her and praising her enthusiastically. Brilliant. If only Zuri was this easy.
My dilemma had been solved. Benjamin was right, well done truly is better than well said.