First Paw Forward has a standard of excellence when working with clients and their “family members” (your beloved dog(s)) – here are some valuable tips to help you build a foundation:
- Learn some of the science of how dogs think and communicate.
- “The Other End of the Leash” by Dr. Patricia McConnell is a superb book on our relationships.
- Watch a TED Talk on dog-friendly training by Dr. Ian Dunbar
- World renowned Karen Pryor Clicker Training is an extensive resource for learning the science of dog language in a user-friendly forum
- Recognise that dogs don’t think like people. In fact, dogs’ cognitive abilities are not as great as ours – they are not capable of “feeling bad” or “guilty,” stressing over their day, having foresight into the consequences of their actions, or learning and remembering out of context. And they definitely aren’t capable of “knowing right from wrong.”
- Realize that dogs have evolved from wolves but do not act like wolves in the wild – they do NOT exhibit family pack behaviors that include concepts like dominance and submission, as popularized on reality TV. They ARE part of a complex social system that relies on patterns of behavior, contexts, socialization, conditioning, and a need for harmony.
- Dogs think in context – that means “sit” in front of a bowl is very different than “sit” in front of a door or “sit” at the curb at the end of your street. Each act must be trained separately.
- Dogs think in terms of patterns, particularly patterns of behavior. For example, your dog knows that you are going to work because every morning you have a habit of getting dressed in a certain way, eating certain foods, putting particular shoes on, and grabbing your keys, all at a certain time of day that they recognize by the light coming through the window. How many other things do you think your dog recognizes by observing your body language, your breathing patterns, your smells and habits and what is happening in his or her environment?
When we, as dog owners, carefully consider all the variables in our dogs world, try to be better listeners, and do our homework in learning how dogs think, we lesson the tension in communication and create harmony in the household.