Listening to Your Dog – An Unbiased View
Posted on August 30, 2011 by WayCoolDogs
Every morning when I wake up, my little dachshund Miss Holly Higgins greets me with happiness and lots of kisses, verbally filling the room with excited little barks … as if to say, “Good morning, good morning, good morning!” She is happy without fail and always forgiving….something we humans should learn to do.
I, on the other hand, am not as cheerful until my second pot of coffee…which she has not yet learned to make for me.
Watching Holly so happy and talkative makes me wonder how many of us actually listen to our dogs, whether it is our family dog, the neighbor’s dog, a stray dog, a guide dog, or a therapy dog. After mulling it around in my mind and being around dogs for over 12 years, I have come to the conclusion that the lack of communication is always on the human side of error…not of the dog.
Why you should listen to your dog
Listening to your dog means your dog is listening to you—it’s as simple as that. If one of you is not listening, there cannot be a good two-sided communication level. It is more like we have with our children, “Uh huh…yes, I hear you.” But our mind is halfway across the world as we watch our soaps.
The relationship you develop with your little puppy you just brought home or an adult dog from the shelter should be one of unconditional love and trust—starting from day one. Otherwise, why have one? A loving dog owner should look into his dog’s eyes every time and feel joyous recognition for who the dog is and what it is saying.
An unbreakable bond needs to develop that can be seen when your dog looks directly into your eyes with love and devotion, one that can be felt instantly in the heart. Every time your dog looks into your eyes, there should be an instant feeling of connection, “I know you…you are someone who loves me and I can trust.”
This level of communication is vital before serious training begins, influencing its level of success. Your dog should listen to your commands because they love you and wish to please you…not out of fear or due to a harsh reprimand. The phrase “violence breeds violence” is never more true than when training a dog, as all dogs are different and require different levels of communication and training to reach into their mind and heart. Especially… if the new dog comes from an abusive home or a shelter with no background information, and are carrying negative baggage you know nothing about…old battle wounds that have never healed.
Science and the dog
At one time, dogs were not considered capable of having emotions or feelings, being unable to listen. They were considered uncapable of understanding the world around them. They were nothing more than a dumb mutt.
However, dogs today are one of the hottest topics being researched by science. Animal behavioral scientists have stepped forth with enough convictions and research to prove the intelligence and emotional level of dogs…there is very little difference between man and dogs, or man and animals for that matter.
Individuals like Charles Darwin and current researchers like Marc Bekoff, Alexandra Horowitz, Templin Grande, Stanley Coren, and Patricia McConnell have changed the world’s outlook on what a dog is and what they are capable of thinking and doing. They have simply observed and listen to the dog to develop a more advanced understanding of who the dog really is.
Thinking like a dog
Listening to your dog when he or she is begging at the table can be easily understood, according to traditional training methods. The dog is not hungry, it simply wants what you are having. Most dog trainers will say if an owner gives in, the dog will repeats its presence at every meal. They say the begging has been reinforced and the dog has been trained to develop a bad behavior.
True…but only to a point.
Dogs were domesticated by man, and have become very social animals over the centuries. As humans, we have made them that way. In early days, the dog was always by the cooking fire or the table to clean up scraps. It was part of their survival and of the evolution of man. It was an acceptable behavior by the dog. Today it is not. And the dog asks, “Why the hell not? It was good enough for great-grandma and her ancestors!”
As your dog is salivating and drooling by your side, tapping your arms or leg with an eager paw, you are actually receiving two messages. One is that the dog wishes to eat what you are eating, not his dry ol’ stupid dog food. The other message is that it is actually hungry. Either way, the dog who is smelling the delicious aroma of food, thinking you have cooked it specially for him. That is the same message you are communicating to all dogs within smelling distance, and are now lined up to your back door with dog bowl in hand.
One way to handle this situation is place the dog outside or in its kennel…with the other visiting dogs. Completely away from the dining room or table.
Otherwise, place a bowl of food on the floor nearby, allowing your four-legged family member to eat with you. Forget the “table scraps for the dog” bit, as that is already in the dog food you buy at the store. Mix some healthy vegetables or chunks of freshly cooked meat into the dog bowl. If you like, add some of the dog’s usual dry food with it…about half the usual amount.
Pregnant dogs and puppies need more protein and vitamins than the average adult dog. They need a nutritious quality dog food that provides what they need…not just food from the table. Also, puppies have delicate digestive systems so different foods will cause them diarrhea, constipation, vomiting or excess gas. Pregnant dogs need extra proteins for growth of the puppies in her…human food can be added to her higher protein dog food, but not replace it.
Some good human food for dogs are things like diced apples, green beans, sweet potatoes, squash, chicken, or turkey. Healthy food is healthy food, whether it be for you or your dog. However, things that are bad for your dog are chocolate, avocados,pepper, alcohol beverages, grapes, raisins, coffee, pop with caffeine, raw yeast dough, cooked bones, pork, excessive amounts of onions and garlic, chives, milk, and large amounts of salt.
What it takes to understand
Listening to your dog will tell you what it likes and what it does not like. Pumpkin may be good for the dog, but it may spit it halfway across the floor or vomit a pile of undigested pumpkin at your feet. Believe me….not a pretty sight!
Knowing who your dog is can be achieved by nothing more than listening to you dog and observing their behavior. This provides a loving and more bonding relationship between your dog and yourself that is much more important than any training method. The training is the only half the picture.
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