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Friday, 2 December 2011

THE GOLDEN RULE FOR DOGS

ENABLE THE BEST IN YOUR DOG

I firmly believe that the human-dog relationship should be as beneficial to the dog as it is for the human. 

In order to fulfill this mandate we must take responsibility as leaders and guardians to our dogs. I also believe that the human-dog relationship should be a partnership.

I see the leadership role as a state of being in which the human empowers themselves and their dog to live a happy, healthy life.

Abby, Jordie, Tasha and Sarah
A dog is willing to give so much to their human - but what is the human willing to give to the dog?  

To enable the best in your dog you must think beyond yourself, your momentary needs your emotions. I believe you must broaden your understanding of affection, leadership and partnership.

If you learn to look at every element of your relationship in a more dynamic and holistic fashion you can learn to combine what you want with what your dog requires.

To have a happy, well balanced canine companion the human needs to make sure that they fullfill the needs of their dog.

Just because our dog fulfills our needs it does not mean that we have automatically fulfilled our dog's needs. 

Many of us, with the best of intentions, do not realize (that just because we love our dog and ensure we provide it with lots of affection the best of food, treats, a comfy place to sleep, etc.) that we have not met our dog's needs in a way that will best benefit them. 

If you have acquired a dog simply as a fashion accessory or as a warm fuzzy thing to cuddle and have not understood that living with a dog involves much, much more - you are dooming your dog to a life of misery - although you may not see it that way! When we do not allow a dog to live as a dog we inflict great psychological harm and physical harm.

To achieve and maintain psychological and physical health dogs like people need to have the following on a daily basis:

#1 For the Body
Work = Exercise for the body - to keep muscles, ligaments and bones strong, to expend energy, to maintain proper physiological function…this also keeps the mind sharp too!

#2  For the Mind
Leadership = to stimulate maintain and evolve the mind structure - rules, boundaries, coaching and mentoring;

#3 For the Soul
Affection - affection has many dimensions and facets...

  • The most foundational, fundamental and selfless form of affection you can provide to someone you love (human or non-human animal) is to provide...
    • A safe roof over their head;
    • Good food, and;
    • Structure...
  • For without these three things a being will not be well adjusted or healthy.
    • The other form of affection - physical touch is - in order of priority last on the list.
    • This is not becasue it is not important, but instead becasue the other three are even more important :>)
#4 - Nutrition
A well balanced diet - that provides rich nutrition and quality caloric intake in balance with energy expended. Poor diet has impacts on physical and mental health!

#1 to #4 when combined together =  an overall safe and supportive environment.

It is my belief that in order to fulfill the needs of our dogs we need to understand and follow what I call the ‘Golden Rule’. The Golden Rule addresses Body, Mind and Soul.

Jacob and Carmen
SO WHAT IS THE GOLDEN RULE?

On a daily basis the human must make sure that they satisfy the needs of their dog's physical, psychological and spiritual requirements. 

It is very important to ensure that these three requirements are fulfilled in the correct order of priority, at appropriate times and in the right amount.

The order of priority is the basis for the Golden Rule...

#1 Work - fulfill the physical requirements of the body: exercise

#2 Leadership - fulfill the psychological requirements of the mind: structure, coaching, mentoring

#3 Affection - which as described further above is multidimensional with the last element being the spiritual requirements of the soul

If you think about it - this Golden Rule makes so much sense.

I know that I feel really lousy if I don't get enough exercise. Exercise helps our body rid itself of the tension (physical and mental) of daily stresses; it helps us stay fit, keeps our muscles, tendons and bones strong; helps to moderate our emotional highs and lows and makes us feel less tired.

I feel aimless, at loose ends if I have no structure in my life. For some this can lead to an overwhelming sense of insecurity, anxiety, depression.

And let's face it; a lack of affection in one's life is very tough on an individual's overall well being.

I love and cherish my dogs - to be true to these feelings I have for my dogs, I make sure that my love and respect for them translates into meeting all of their needs at the right time, in the right way. By doing so I also respect myself. In order to successfully follow the Golden Rule, I must be aware of what I am doing; I must be aware of my state-of-being; I must find balance and I must be the pack leader. By following this methodology, the dog and the human both benefit.

If you are currently meeting some or all of the three requirements, but in the wrong order or wrong amount you are likely to or already have a dog with behaviour traits that either annoy and frustrate you or may pose a danger to the dog, yourself or to others.

Let’s take a look at the big three in a little more detail…

EXERCISE

I always say that dogs have two types of energy; their daily quota of energy, and;
if they have not had enough exercise on a regular daily basis they can have stored energy in addition to daily energy;

They can also have a third type of energy - anxious energy! If your dog has anxiety issues it may also have nervous energy which results in chewing objects or itself, scratching itself, etc.

Dogs need to expend their energy to feel relaxed and calm. You cannot expect a dog with unspent energy to be focused and ‘reasonable’, happy or balanced. Dogs need to expend their energy on a regular (daily) basis.

Just as we find it difficult to settle down if we are revved up, so do dogs - even more so.

LEADERSHIP

Dogs require leadership - coaching and mentoring - leading by example from a calm, confident, firm, patient, fair and aware state-of-being. This is how well balanced dogs instruct each other - this is also how well balanced humans instruct each other! To understand more about leadership read about being your dog's Pack Leader 

AFFECTION

If you always share enthusiastic, excited affection with your dog you may be creating a stressed and overly excited dog.

Affection can be expressed in many ways - some of the best opportunities to share affection are subtle, quite moments of appreciation, of caring.
It is important to realize that providing affection in the wrong way or at the wrong time can cause behavioural issues such as anxiety, dominating behaviour and even aggression.

To understand more about all of the positive ways you can share affection with your dogs, read about affection and your dog Affection and Your Dog 

Sometimes it is easier to understand an idea or theory if we can see it in a visual format...below is a graphic representation of the Golden Rule...



Additional Assistance

If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behaviour Modification Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service




Notes:
Please note - this article is for information purposes and is not a substitute for an in-person Session with me. When working with dogs I use many techniques - it is important to note that this article may touch on one or several techniques but not all. I select the technique that I use for a particular dog based on my observations of the dog and an intuitive, instinctive assessment of that dog's and its human's individual requirements. For example when I am working with a dog that is hyper sensitive and very physically reactive I will not use voice or touch. I use a lot of therapeutic touch on some dogs, others require the use of herding techniques and so on. Each and every technique must be combined with:
  • an understanding of the real intelligence, sensitivity and capability of dogs;
  • an understanding of how to read a dog's face and a dog's overall body language;
  • an understanding of the full spectrum of ways that humans communicate and dogs communicate; 
  • understanding and recognition of the individual that is each dog - no two dogs are the same...taking a 'cookie cutter' approach to techniques is not the way to work with a dog;
  • a complete recognition and understanding of all the elements that feed a behaviour and create an issue:
    •  the vast majority of people can only identify one or two elements...which vastly inhibits the ability to resolve behavior issues;
    • behaviours do not exist in isolation - there are always many elements that feed a single behaviour, there all always multiple behaviours that create a behavioral issue;
  • self-restraint and discipline on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
  • sensitivity, awareness, intuition, instinct and timing on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
    • to understand, connect with and adapt quickly and effectively to a dog's learning requirements you must be able to employ the same tools a dog uses - acute sensitivity, awareness, instinct, intuition and timing;
  • kindness, endurance, consideration, patience, persistence, perspective, the ability and know how to let the past go, the ability to set realistic expectations at any one point in time;
  • the creation of structure, rules, boundaries and limitations for each situation at the macro and micro level;
  • understanding of all the elements that make up an instruction and direction to a dog...there are multiple steps involved in an instruction - not just one!
  • absolute honesty - if you cannot be honest with yourself you will not be able to communicate clearly with a dog.
These are just some of the techniques that I teach my clients - it is a holistic, all-encompassing approach. If you are missing any one element of the above mentioned your success rate will be affected to one degree or another in implementing the techniques offered in the article presented above.