The embarrassment of pet ownership

Our new neighbours are always complementing us on our well behaved dogs as we walk them calmly passed them as their own two dogs strain at their leads barking and carrying on with ferocious frenzy. They assume that my veterinary skills extend to faultless animal training and behavioural control which I confess is more than wishful thinking. Tassie, the older dog, took years to calm down and walk sensibly on a lead and even now in her more senior years she shows a distinct lack of patience for young, excitable puppies who she will snap at or growl at if they approach with puppy happiness and enthusiasm. Bart is much more disappointing in terms of model behaviour. Even after 6 years he pulls persistently on his lead, loves to sniff peoples crotches and thinks that any dog his size or bigger wants to eat him. He’s still prone to jumping up at people in excitement, which for a 30kg dog is not ideal, and the noise both dogs make when the front door is knocked is deafening.
Still on the list of undesirable behaviour their own failings are mostly bearable. They aren’t aggressive, after some initial excitement they generally settle down when we have friends over and the majority of their walks are off lead so the pain of being pulled down the road is usually short lived. 
In all honesty I don’t know any dog owners who don’t wish their dogs were better behaved on some level. No dog is so well behaved that some embarrassment isn’t inevitable occasionally. Some dogs bark incessantly, some are neurotic, some believe the best defence is a good offence. Some chase livestock, some rub their bottoms along the living room carpet just when guests arrive for dinner. In the vet clinic some need muzzling just to have their nails cut and a few need sedating just to get close enough to examine safely. Like children they have the potential to make us feel like failures in our ability, or lack thereof, to train them effectively, but for all of their (or our) failings we wouldn’t swap them. Their behavioural oddities are part of what makes them so endearing, their foibles are part of their charm. That’s not to say improvement is not to be aspired to and your vet clinic can recommend a number of dog trainers and classes that can improve even the most delinquent of dogs. However if it’s any consolation we all share a sense of failure when it comes to our pets behaviour occasionally and we should console ourselves that their idiosyncrasies are also part of their appeal. Only Bob the cat in our household seems to avoid leaving me feeling inadequate as a pet owner on a regular basis but only because like most cat owners I am aware that he trains me and not the other way around.