Are You A Good Guardian For Your Dog?
This blog post is a continuation of my previous post Humanising Dogs Is Resulting In So Many Emotional & Behavioural Issues In Our Dogs.
I cannot stress enough. We need to respect dogs for what they are. We need to understand and acknowledge that they have natural instincts and drives provided to them by mother nature that need to be satisfied for them to live a well balanced and psychologically stable and healthy life.
Dogs (just like humans) need and instinctively seek structure in their life. They need to know and understand their social groups rules and boundaries, because without consistent rules and boundaries there can only be chaos. I don't really care what you call your dog (even though couple of these I do dislike), your mate, your furchild, your furbaby, whatever; what is more important is how you relate to your dog! If the way you view your dog interferes with the way you interact with your dog, and it prevents you from acknowledging your dogs true nature, then you probably should reconsider this personal view and relationship you have with your dog, for the well-being of your dog. Your emotional needs or desires should never override your dogs natural and instinctive needs. Allowing this to happen is just being selfish and disrespectful to your dog.
We all know that even within human society, whether that be countries, businesses, sports teams, families, or any type of social group, there needs to be law and order (rules and boundaries), for the social group to survive and not fall into chaos. Yet so many dog owners are not providing this for their dogs. For some reason, in many homes, dogs are just given a free-for-all life, to do as they please, when they please, as they please. Behaviours are at times (and inconsistently) encouraged and even rewarded that would be frowned upon if our own human social members (family or friends) entertained them. Without proper guidance, by ensuring consistent rules and boundaries for each member within a social group, we only create stress for each individual within that group, because there are no consistent boundaries on behaviours that are either acceptable or not acceptable. And then due to this inconsistency, what usually happens, behavioural acceptance tends to change dependent on the mood of the individual in that moment. This not only creates stress for the individual (dog) due to there being no defined consistent behavioural rules it can rely upon, because they keep changing dependent on an individuals current mood, but also for everyone involved within the social group, even for the one changing the rules based on their current mood. What you may enjoy from your dog one moment, you may not enjoy in the next moment, dependent on your current mood. Rules and boundaries are always consistent no mater what mood you find yourself in. When a dog cannot predict your reaction or response to a given behaviour, you are causing confusion and therefore distress in your dog.
Believe it or not, you do not need to enforce a lot of rules for your dog, to ensure your dog lives a well balanced and stable life. Two of the most important in my opnion, that we do need to be very consistent with, are:
- Teaching your dog to respect personal and social space. This means that there are rules and boundaries when entering a persons or even another dogs personal and social space.
- Teaching impulse control. Helping your dog to learn to control its impulses.
Weren't we taught these when young?
Teaching your dog these 2 behavioural boundaries, and being consistent with them will go along way to ensure your dog doesn't suffer issues such as anxiety or other psychological conditions that may cause your dog to become distressed, and therefore exhibit unacceptable behaviours due to your inconsistency.
Of course, we also need to satisfy a dogs other natural instincts and drives, for instance prey drive (chasing a ball or toy if your dog has strong prey drive), or the instinct to explore its environment (taking it for walks), etc. Your dog also needs lots of mental stimulation; this is where following an obedience training routine with your dog helps a lot, and also helps your dog to learn to focus on you, and seek guidance from you. Stimulating your dogs brain with training and setting consistent rules and boundaries builds a stronger bond between you both, than a dog without these structures in place. Your dog needs environmental stimulation, which means your dog cannot be kept locked in a sterile yard or apartment 24 hours a day with no way to satisfy its instincts, or access to mental stimulation.
Please, understand and acknowledge to yourself and your dog, that you have a very important role to play in your dogs life, you are your dogs guardian, and therefore your dog is looking to you for consistent guidance. If your dog is not receiving this from you, then your dog needs to try and deal with the human world itself, and this can cause your dog confusion, and therefore much distress, and therefore lead to anxiety related issues, as in many cases its behavioral choices will be wrong, or there will be no consistency from you or others in the consequences for the choices it makes.
Give your dog companionship, love, and consistent leadership, and your dog will reward you with total loyalty.
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