Should we be looking for ways to train our dogs NOT to do something? Or should we be seeking to understand our dogs and support them to FEEL better?
We live in a 'Fix it' society. We want things to be fixed (and fast!) and we want problems to resolved or simply go away. We don't want to feel the discomfort or experience the inconvenience and irritation that challenges present for us. I think this is also true when it comes to our dog’s challenging or ‘problem’ behaviours? Do we see their 'naughty’ or ‘bad’ behaviour as something that needs to be fixed? Do we want it to simply go away because it's inconvenient or irritating for us? Well, what if we understood that behaviour is an expression of what the dog is feeling? What if the unwanted or undesirable behaviours are actually coping strategies for dealing with the emotions that they may be experiencing in that particular situation? Excessive barking, lunging, whining, growling, jumping, humping, snapping, or even over-excitement and pulling on the leash, are all common ways that dogs express their emotions. These could be due to one or more underlying emotions such as anxiety, fear, frustration anger or insecurity. Or, they could be emotions caused by pain and discomfort due to illness and disease. When we see it from this perspective, is ‘fixing’ the right solution? Or, should we rather be considering how best we can support our dogs to FEEL BETTER? How can we support our dogs to feel safer, calmer and more at ease in the world around them? What can we do to make their life more comfortable and less stressful, which will in turn make our lives happier too? It starts with shifting our perspective, and asking the right questions.
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