We may dress them like a human, and we may treat them like one, as well. The number one biggest mistake dog owners can make with their dogs is to treat them like humans. The human race is a compassionate species that tend to look at our canine companions as little humans. When in reality, they are canines, and have a very different thought process. This is what differentiates mankind from other species in pack societies. There must be a specific order, from the leader on down to the last follower. Everyone has a place. The leaders are the strength of the pack. The followers need the leader to guide them. This primal instinct keeps the pack secure and content. Dogs instinctually need rules they must follow, and limits to what they are allowed to do. When dogs live with humans, the humans become the dog's pack. For the relationship to succeed, humans must become the dog's pack leader. The mistake is made when the humans in the pack only give the dog love, and the other factors are overlooked. To a dog, constant affection without rules and limits goes against every grain in a dog's natural instinct. Affectionate love is a human trait, not a canine trait. Affection does not make dogs happy. Satisfying their instincts make them happy. You need to provide proper emotional stability in order to achieve this. Showing you have an orderly pack with rules to follow is what the dog needs. Giving your dog affection is important for the human, and enjoyed by the dog, but it must be done at the correct time.
Below is a video clip that shows a perfect example of humans giving a dog affection at the wrong time. The result of many years of being treated like a human, the dog is terrified of thunder. The humans comfort the dog in a way humans understand, but not in a way a dog can understand. The dog is in a weak state of mind, and is surrounded by pack members who are in an even weaker state of mind. This really messes up the dog's psyche, causes emotional torture, and intensifies the fear. While watching the clip, keep in mind how the humans feel they are comforting this dog, and how the dog's instincts do not see it that way. The dog feels she has not choice but to leave the weak pack, and seek comfort in solitude. Keeshond being treated like a human.
A dog is an animal, and does not possess the same reasoning skills as humans. They do have emotions, but they are simple creatures with instincts. Their emotions lack a complex thought process. They feel joy when they know you are pleased, they feel sad when you are depressed. However, they do not premeditate, or plan ahead. They live for whatever is happening at the moment. Lets say for example that you are upset over something that has happened in your life. Your dog will know you are upset, but will not know why. His interpretation of your emotions will be that of unstable energy. He will see you as weak. On the flip side. A human shares its affection with a dog who is in an aggressive, obsessive, shy, skittish, fearfull or hyper state of mind. You give the dog a hug, or a pat on the head, and tell him it's ok. It is comforting to the human, but feeds into that state of mind for the dog, making it more intense. You are telling the dog it is ok to feel that way. While the human feels they are comforting the dog, the dog sees it as the human being weak. You are not providing strong energy the dog can feed from. For instance, your dog has a traumatic experience. You show him affection during that time. You try to comfort him, rather than redirecting his actions. Since you are not being a strong leader he can feed from, you leave him stuck in that state of mind. Later when your dog faces the traumatic situation again, you comfort him again, intensifying the situation even more. You are creating the problem. Dogs do not see comfort and affection in the same way we humans see it. Dogs are always looking for a strong stable being to feed from. On the same note: Dogs that constantly lean on you, put their paws on you, use their nose to make you pet them, and always feel the need to be touching you in some wayis not your dog loving you. It is your dog displaying dominate behaviors. In the dog world, space is respect. A dog that is constantly nudging you and leaning on you, is not only disrespecting you, he is being the Alpha Dog.
Taking your dog for a walk is an important ritual in keeping your dog mentally stable. Dog's are walkers/travelers by instinct. Packs of dogs get up in the morning and walk. Simply having a large back yard is not going to satisfy this instinct in your dog. To your dog, your back yard is like a large cage, to where they are trapped. For a dog to be mentally stable, you, as an owner, must take your dog for daily walks to release not only physical energy, but mental energy. The proper way to walk a dog is to never let him pull on the leash. This may seem petty in a human's mind, but it means a lot in a dog's mind. Proper training equipment is essential to begin this process. The dog is encouraged to concentrate on their handler, while maintaining slack in the leash at the walk. The person walking the dog decides where the dog goes. A lack of exercise and the mental energy a proper walk releases can cause many behavioral problems in a dog. Getting a dog to walk properly on a lead is not as hard as it may seem. Even with multiple dogs. Dogs pick up on the energy of their humans. They can tell if you are hyper, nervous, scared, or calm. You will be able to communicate successfully with your dog if you use your body's energy rather than excited words. For example, if your dog does something wrong and you yell, scream, or even hit him, he will be confused. This is not the way a pack leader corrects his followers. Instead, you must approach your dog in a very self-assured and calm manner and correct the dog at the moment he is doing the unwanted behavior. This he will understand. Mimicking the way dogs correct one another incorporates the use of body language. Remember, the dog must be doing the deed at the moment of correction in order for you to successfully communicate.
We humans have successfully domesticated the dog, but we will never be able to de-animalize a dog and remove their natural instinct. We cannot change a dog into having human characteristics. Sure, we can pretend we can, and satisfy our human wants. However, this is where your behavior problems arise. While we think we are treating a dog in such a way that will make him happy, we are in fact doing just the opposite. By not satisfying a dog's natural instincts, we create confused, unhappy dogs. To happily coexist with mans best friend, we need to understand our fellow canines and satisfy THEM, rather than only satisfying ourselves. Dogs do not live in the past or the future, as humans do. They live for the moment. Because a dog lives in the present, and not in the past or future, it is much easier to rehabilitate a dog than it is a human. If you begin treating your dog in a very self-assured manner, giving love at the right times, and correcting your dog at the right moments, you can change your dog into being happy, and mentally stable. The more stable your dog is, the more calm and submissive he will become, and the more you can give them affectionate love. It's a "win-win" situation. As the saying goes, "Treat your dog like a human, and he'll treat you like a dog!"
This Website Updated: 11-9-2019 All information contained in this website is current, and up to date
JCM's Obedience Training Program adheres to the regulations and standards set forth by the AKC (American Kennel Club).