The Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
ABOUT DOGS THEMSELVES
If you want to 'train' your dog, the best place to start is with an understanding of dogs themselves and how humans can enable the best in their dogs, which also enables the best in humans...what you discover can change your life in the best possible way, and your dog will play a large part in taking you there...
EDUCATION - ABOUT DOGS THEMSELVES
and how we can help them be happy and healthy
learn, grow, create balance
ON THIS PAGE: KEY CONCEPTS ABOUT
History of the dog;
What dogs 'pick-up' when we communciate with them
How we do, or do not gain
our dog's respect
1. Educating: the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning.
2. Knowledge: the knowledge or abilities gained through being educated and informed.
This section of my website is dedicated to educating you about dogs themselves and how to bring out the best in your dog, which also brings out the best in you.
The starting point, the very core of teaching a dog to be a good dog is not about habituating a dog to sit, stay or lie down. Teaching a dog to be a good dog starts with educating the human about the true nature and requirements of the dog. Dogs in their natural state are generally 'good'. It is when we humans break the cycle of normal social education of a dog by other dogs, that we then need to take over the responsibility of teaching and socializing the dog. Without intention, many humans take away the dog's ability to fulfill themselves as a dog. This sets the stage for 'bad' dog behaviour. When the human understands the basic principles of how to fulfill the 'dog in the dog', the human is in a better position to enable the best in their dog and themselves.
1. Essential part: the central or most important part of something.
1. Basic assumption: an important underlying law or assumption required in a system of thought.
2. Way of working: the basic way in which something works and functions.
We humans bring dogs into our lives for so many reasons...for companionship, because we have a need and the means to help animals whose lives have been compromised by humanity, for our children, to help on a farm, for rescue and disaster recovery, tactical operations, for therapy...the reasons are numerous and almost always well intentioned.
Then there are those humans who acquire a dog purely for the status that 'ownership' will afford them or for empowerment of their own insecurities symptomized by the need to dominate others.
But what about the dogs themselves? Somewhere in the process we humans can either lose sight of, or never truly consider, the dogs themselves.
What is it that the dog really requires, to live a happy, well balanced, social life. When the human does not know or really understand a dog's real requirements, the psychological and physical impact on the dog (and the resonating impact on the human companion) can be enormous.
Lack of proper leadership, lack of honouring the dog in the dog will normally result in issues that can grow exponentially, causing symptoms to increase in intensity. As the issues and symptoms increase, so to does the psychological damage to the dog, and to the human-dog relationship.
No dog wants to be bad and most humans do not intend to do wrong by their dog. But, when a dog gets off track, humanity has, in almost all cases caused and enabled the dog's unbalanced condition.
The information in the Education section of my website will:
A) Help you understand the psychology of dogs, their needs and requirements and how
our state of being can effect that of our dogs.
B) Walk you through the core principles of how you can ensure that you are meeting your
dog's needs. Often human's forget or just don't realize that just because our dog meets our
needs we may not be meeting our dogs needs.
If you believe that your dog requires lots of love and affection, the best of food, the comfiest, cosiest
spots to rest you are not wrong, however to be a happy, well balanced dog that is healthy in mind
body and spirit, your dog has other very important requirements.
THE BEST PLACE TO START IS WITH A LITTLE HISTORY ON THE DOG...
Our domesticated dogs of today still retain some of the characteristics and requirements of their ancestor, the wolf…
Artefacts from the Cynodesmus date back 25 to 30 million years ago. To date, archeoligists consider the Cynodesmus to be the first dog that walked the earth. The Cynodesmus is thought to be the ancestor of the Tomarctus, a wolf-like animal that evolved millions of years after the Cynodesmus. The Tomarctus is the ancestor of all present day canines, including the coyote, dingo, fox, jackal and wolf.
The domesticated dogs of today, irrespective of size and breed, are all descendants of the wolf. The first evidence that there were different sizes and breeds of dogs dates back to more than 9,000 years ago.
The first dog domesticated by humans was the wolf. It is thought that the friendship between humans and dogs began somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. These early humans were hunter-gatherers who learned to use dogs to help in the hunt and to guard their settlements. The domestication of dogs far predates the domestication of any other animal.
Wolves, like humans, are social animals. A wolf's 'family' is its wolf pack. A wolf pack consists of multiple wolves; male and female, pups, teenagers, adults and elders. Individuals who team together to use their resources (themselves!) to keep a pack healthy and well feed. The success of the hunt is dependent on the wolves' ability to deploy their resources effectively. One or several may lead the hunt; an other identifies the tracks of the hunted. Others herd, block and contain the quarry, while another member of the pack kills the prey. Success of the pack is dependent on the ability of the pack members to use their resources wisely to work together.
WHAT DO OUR DOGS PICK-UP WHEN WE COMMUNICATE?
Our dogs see and feel everything we communicate, including what we don’t realize that we are communicating! Dogs still retain senses and abilities that we as humans lost hundreds of thousands of years ago. Dogs receive communication from us in various forms; they watch how the human positions their body, they look at the expression on the human’s face; they use their sense of smell, they sense the human’s state of being. Because they are interested in humans and do use all of their senses to ‘read us’, the dog is often aware of how we really feel about a situation before we even realize how we feel.
For instance, even minimal movement (fractions of an inch) has meaning - it often shows our intention. If you lean fractionally forward, a dog can read this stance as aggressive, while leaning backward can be seen as non-threatening. If a dog is growling at you and instead of retreating or fleeing you hold your ground with true calm, assertive energy, and do not stare directly at the dog, the dog can sense that you are not a threat, nor are you prey - the dog may calm down and regard you with respect.
Our posture can earn our dog’s respect and attention - if you stand straight with shoulders back and chest slightly out your dog is much more likely to obey your instruction than when you stand with poor posture and shoulders slumped forward.
If you, in the correct manner, claim space, location, objects (animate or inanimate), you will garner your dogs attention and gain their respect.
In a situation where a fight between dogs could occur, you have the power to either spark the fight or diffuse it before it starts just with your body language. If your breathing is normal (calm and even) your dog senses that you are in control and balanced, that you expect things to be normal. If you are breathing rapidly or holding your breath, if your facial expression is tense, they understand that you are excited, fearful or anxious…you are creating tension. Your tension will make them alert to the fact that you are expecting something to occur. Your dog will feed on this energy and become unbalanced - at this point it is very likely that it will attack the other dog.
Now you are ready to continue by moving to the other pages in this section...I hope you enjoy your journey...
Dogs teach me something new every day...you just have to be open and attentive to what they are trying to tell us about themselves, about ourselves.
Dogs learn from observing...
Dogs watch you and assess your capacity to direct and provide leadership. Dogs also learn from receiving positive and negative reactions from their human companions. Our domesticated dogs still retain the wolf’s need for social structure. Very few dogs are born to be leaders - our canine companions look to their human companions for leadership - it is when we are not able to properly fulfill the role of leader that our dogs develop behavioural issues. Dog’s who have a leader that is able to communicate clearly and effectively with them are happy, calm dogs, while dogs who lack this kind of direction often become confused, nervous, anxious, excited, uncertain and/or aggressive.
Why are dogs able to bond more easily than other animals with humans?
Many animals just aren’t terribly interested in what humans are doing…dogs differ from many of these animals as dogs are very interested in what humans do. Dogs are intelligent, sensitive beings.
Dogs and humans have similar facial expressions controlled by a very similar set of facial muscles - this similarity is not matched by many other animals. Dogs do smile, dogs do have dreams and nightmares, dogs do grieve.
HOW WE DO AND HOW WE DO NOT GAIN OUR DOG'S RESPECT
When humans purchase, adopt of otherwise ‘acquire’ a dog, the expectation of that human, is that the dog will inherently respect them. This expectation is very broad and does not take in to account the true nature of the dog or the nature of the human. It is an erroneous expectation and assumption, based on a cultural belief rather than on psychology and the reality of the situation. It is also the first place where the human-dog relationship can really get off-track. When the expectation is not fulfilled, the human can become upset, frusterated at best. The negative impact on the psychological health of the dog can be profound.
To understand this statement one must understand a little of the psychology of humans and the psychology of dogs. Examine how you, as an individual accord respect to others. There are various levels of respect.
Respect - Level 1: Common respect is really a type of courteously that we give to people when we first encounter/meet them. If you have no prior knowledge of the person and the person is non-threatening you are probably going to be pleasant to them. But would you trust them with your health and well being? Likely not. You would sit back, observe them and try to ‘pick-up’ some knowledge of their approach to situations, based on a rating system of criteria that you set. As an example you would want to know if the person is rationale and logical, capable and able to make good decisions. Are they kind and caring? Do they have your best interests in mind or only theirs? Are the decisions and actions that they take, considered and considerate or reactive and based solely on excess emotion?
Respect - Level 2: If the person has met your criteria then you will accord them the second level of respect. This type of respect moves beyond the realm of common courtesy into a fundamental belief that this person is worthy of your trust - that they can be expected to make decisions that will enable your health and well being. This person can be trusted to lead you in the right direction - this person is a leader. This level of respect must be earned. It cannot be accorded by one person to another by means of force - the result would be fear and/or servitude, not respect.
Now examine how a dog accords respect; basically the same way a human would - as described above.
So, when you first meet your dog they are observing you. If the only or predominant expression and state-of-being they receive from you is extreme excitement, sadness, worry, affection, etc. they are going to accord you the first type of courtesy. Over the ensuing days and weeks if you continue to present the same state, you will not enable your dog to move you to the next stage of respect - Level 2.
To obtain a Level 2 respect rating from your dog, you need to show that you are a firm, but fair leader who can and will make the right decisions at the right time in the right way. To do this, you need to be able to 'read' your dog. You need to be able to understand what your dog requires. You need to be aware of what you are really communicating to your dog and how you are communicating. Your dog needs to know that you can lead and direct it in a calm and confident manner in all facets of it's life. When you have shown your dog that you can do this - you have earned their full respect.