Divya Sanbhwani Co-founder and Canine Behaviorist at All Ears for Animals, India
When we bring a dog home, it’s important to first understand that they belong to another species that think, behave and feel differently. To raise a dog or any animal for that matter, we need to put ourselves in their paws and listen to their needs than assuming our own. To keep it simple, we say, put the spotlight on them! When our focus shifts from how we want our dogs to be and change it to helping them become the best version of themselves, things begin to change. The three virtues for any individual to live a peaceful and stress-free life is Calm, Confidence and Care.
When these three C’s are present, no matter what situation life puts you into, you are able to take a wise decision and overcome any problem. You would be wondering, how do I imbibe these values into my dog's behaviour? He is far away from being “calm” when he sees food or is not confident enough when he meets a new dog for the first time, among many other things. That’s where our role comes in. The day we bring our little four-legged (or sometimes three-legged) friends home, we transition from dog lovers to dog parents. The role of any parent, no matter what species they belong to, is to give their young one guidance and direction to learn appropriate behaviour.
Here’s a fun example for you, remember the movie Mowgli? We all as kids have seen and enjoyed it, but if you go back to the storyline, you see how the animals raised a human baby to survive in a jungle to thrive, not be protected in a cocoon. What they did was a perfect instance of shaping the behaviour of an individual who lived in their territory. Adopting dogs, bringing them into our homes and teaching them life values isn’t any different. If you notice one more thing, perhaps the essential part of it all, that the guide, parent or leader took responsibility practised these virtues themselves. That means, it’s pointless to shout at your dog to calm down and relax every time he gets triggered at the sight of another dog – because, think about it, are you calm at that moment? While you hold the other end of the leash, what is your body communicating to your dog’s body as energy passes? That’s where the miscommunication happens. Hence, when these three virtues are imbibed and practised by you, you as a leader, as a parent become a role model for your dog to look up to and learn.
Taking the cue from the leash example we mentioned, your words didn’t make a difference, your body language and emotions as a response to the situation became a learnt dog behaviour, taught by you. When we can teach them this without realising, we can definitely put in conscious efforts and lead the way to desirable behaviour and response in any situation.
Time to take charge and be the individual you wish your dog would be! Practice calmness, confidence and care especially in situations that stress your dog out, this way you are shaping your dog’s behaviour by teaching him what you want him to do. Not all situations demand you to be affectionate with baby talk and treats or strict with chains and crates, sometimes it’s just about listening to our dog on what they really want to say. If your dog is finding it difficult to remain calm in stressful situations, is under confident or does not seem to care about people around him or your commands, there is no point in offering treats as a reward as none of these behaviours is something you wish to reinforce. Similarly, putting a choker on them or sending them into a crate is like punishing them for feeling an emotion they are simply voicing out.
Here’s the #AllEarsMantra – problems end when we start listening. You want your dog to listen to you, your dog wants you to listen to them, and the cycle keeps repeating. Initiate the healthy practice of listening to our dogs, and that’s when your dog will be all ears to you and your commands!
To schedule a training consultation with All Ears,
visit us on: www.allearsforanimals.com or drop a woof at firstname.lastname@example.org
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