What Every “Master” Should Know – Rudd B. Weatherwax

In articles on April 8, 2009 at 12:16 am

This is an article from the owner and trainer of the Hollywood legendary dog, Lassie. A meaningful read for all dog owners like my mummy. Hope you’ll find insight from this article too.

A short time ago, my mail included this letter from a dog-owner.

“I have seen your Lassie on the screen and I cannot help but admire him. You are indeed fortunate to have such an animal. I own an Airedale that just doesn’t seem to have any intelligence. He is over a year old and he still jumps all over everybody, chews up everything he can get his teeth on and is a general nuisance. Do you think he will outgrow these bad habits, or should I get another dog? If you suggest a new dog, what kind would you advise me to buy?”

My advice to this gentleman, with tactful restraint, was to learn something about dogs, or not to own one. I felt sorry for him, because at the time he wrote me, at least, he could not enjoy having a dog. But I felt more sorry for his unfortunate pet. This dog, and he is far from alone in the world, is an example of the neglect so frequently found in homes where there are pets.

Much of this neglect is due to an ignorance of the principles of dog psychology. To be a good master, it is necessary to realize canine instincts and canine thought processes. A dog is blessed with a great power of understanding, yet too many humans give him too much credit.


Raising a dog can be compared with raising a youngster in many ways. He needs the same supervision of his health, the same care of his diet, the same patience and kindness, and an education. If a child were turned loose to grow up in the same manner as many dogs are today, if he were fed and bathed just whenever it happened to be convenient, if he ran free in the streets and if he were not shown and taught how to behave, he scarcely could be expected to mature into a good citizen.

When a ffamily acquires a pet, it takes on another responsibility. If it doesn’t want to accept that responsibility, it shouldn’t acquire a pet. It should buy a rag dog or mechanical toy that, when it begins to fall apart from neglect and s, can be thrown out without causing any suffering.

When a decision is made to add a dog to the ffamily, thorough preparation should be made in advance of the blessed event. The master-to-be should complete his own education, just as expectant parents are advised to make a study of child care and child psychology prior to the arrival of an infant in the family. He should be sure that he has a proper place in readiness inside the house for the puppy, and outside for the larger dog. He should know just what is to be expected of him, as well as what he may expect of his new pet.

There are 2 things that I believe are more important to a dog than training.

1. First is his health

2. The second is that he be shown kindness

And to each of these, training is extremely important. You will find that a well-trained dog is mentally healthy dog. And, by giving your at least a fundamental training, you will be paying him a great kindness. Add care of his physical health and love and affections to this and you will merit a gold star as a good master.


Next to good health, a dog needs kindness. This includes patience and understanding from his owner. Most unkind acts towards a dog are found in reprimanding him. It is unnecessary to discuss such hard-to-understand things as malicious beating of a pet, thoughtless teasing of him, or utter neglect of him.

Like children again, dogs should be promptly and properly corrected when they do something wrong. Otherwise they will become regular offenders. But it is more a case of showing displeasure at the misdeed than of actual punishment. Regardless of the form of punishment you employ, be careful always not to risk breaking his spirit. It is one of your dog’s most prized possessions.

When your pet has done something for which he should be reprimanded, got to him to discipline him. Calling him to you and then punishing him will make him disinclined to come to you when called for another purpose. But don’t run at him- he may think you want to play, and don;t shout at him. You may wind up with a frustrated, nervous wreck of a dog if you do.

The kindest master is the understanding master. He is the man who realised that a dog cannot be expected to know everything. He doesn’t expect his dog to know that clean floors aren’t for muddy feet, that a savory meat left on the edge of the table isn’t for him, that if he has been accustomed to playing with an old shoe, he will recognise the value of his master’s best slippers if they are left where he can reach them. The kind master doesn’t punish his pet for doing things that he doesn’t know are wrong. He puts temptation out of the way of his dog just as a cherished set of china is put beyond the reach of a small child.

Taken from the book ” The story of Lassie”.


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