How to Make the Dog-Human Relationship (Really) Work!
By Pam Whyte
Dogs are social beings that are very closely related to the wolf and to the wild dog. They are genetically programmed for both harmonious coexistence within a close knit social community, and for survival. In other words, for both hunting for their food, for danger and protecting their turf, as well as for love, loyalty, compassion, and caring for one another within loving mutually supportive families under a trusted leader. There is a moral code that is strictly adhered to, and political power play is expressed according to very rigid and complex rituals.
These communities are actually structured in a very similar way to a human society. Indeed, all social systems function according to the same underlying universal principles, such as: unity is strength; leaders lead by example; the survival of a society depends on cooperation amongst its members; children are reared within families and their parents are their role models. Environmentalists have noted that when food is adequate, wild dogs actually feed their puppies before the adults eat and even care for their weaker members. A pack of dogs is in fact a cameo of an ideal social system.
Dog owning is a unique relationship in that it exists between two different species (cano-sapiens, and homo-not-so-sapiens) – who each speak a different language. Members within a pack of wolves and dogs communicate with one another through the use of a highly developed networking system of body signals, nuances, ego jostling… And when we learn to understand these simple and natural signals, we are able to control and enjoy our dogs to the full.
A pack of dogs is a social system that is interconnected with the politics of leadership, the social cement of love, the protocol of respect, and the networking of non verbal communication amongst the pack, in a highly mutually synergistic manner, which has enabled them to exist through countless centuries in a kill or be killed, eat or be eaten environment, where unity and close cooperation are vital for their survival.
We make a very big mistake when we divorce dogs from reality, creating long term problems for both ourselves and our dogs. Instead of trying to impose our own logic onto our dogs, when we shift our perspective and look at the world and at ourselves and our actions through the eyes of our dog – then bingo, dog owning becomes a mutually enhancing experience – the way dogs within a pack are designed to enrich one another’s lives with love, loyalty, trust, respect…
Alpha power is won through complex ritualistic power play and ego jostling – which is remarkably similar to that of humans. The influence gained through this power play is far more powerful than instilling fear of punishment into our best friends. So when we try and impose our own human logic onto our dogs, we jam up their finely tuned instincts and stifle their true personalities and label the consequences “no ears”, etc. which are, in reality, merely a result of a one sided relationship in the culture clash of domestication. So what is the solution?
Simple. All healthy relationships are built around meeting one another half way. Dogs are not the only aliens that we find ourselves having to live with. We also coexist with other aliens – toddlers, teenagers, the opposite sex, other cultures, cats, a parrot or two… none of whom are on the identical wave length as ours. How then, do we meet our dog half way?
On our side, we:
learn their language;
meet their needs;
allow them to be who they are.
in order to assist them to adjust to domestication and our life style, and develop their full character potential.
And on their side, they:
live by our ground rules,
protect us (or at least show loyalty),
respect our possessions and visitors, etc., (etc.)
then dog owning cannot be more mutually enriching! Sounds easy? You know why? Because it is. It is man who complicates things! Nature is always simple. And this is an ideal that every dog owner can achieve!
The thrilling and empowering connection that this mind shift gives us adds an extra dimension to the very special relationship that we have with our four legged family members – plus giving us more control over them. It enables us to enrich and to enhance one another’s lives. Most of us own dogs to be our friends, companions – and children. Yes, many families that even have six (or more) children – their dog is still their child to them. (So they tell me.) And if you treat your dog like a child, because he is designed to live within a family, he is equipped to simply slot into our two legged families. All we have to do is make dogsense (not nonsense) to them!
But remember, dogs are not babies! Babies are helpless, children aren’t. And there is NOTHING helpless about a dog! Not even about a puppy! (They did a Leadership Course in their litter.)
So here we have a dog that is designed to live within a family, to abide by a strict moral code, under the direction of a loved and trusted leader; and to communicate with the other pack members with their highly developed communication system; who are made for loyalty, devotion, compassion, caring, love… and it is our identification with these parallels within our own social system (albeit subconscious – on our part, anyway) that draws us to one another.
Now once we have achieved this healthy relationship with our dogs, through achieving a 50/50 relationship, then there will be no more raised voices, chewed objects, messing inside, pulling on the lead, barking for nothing, jumping on visitors. Just Nature’s ideal of a loving, mutually cooperative and loyal social system. Which is what we got our dogs for! And which is what they are made for! – because dogs are born with a desire to please the Captain of their team. We just need the key to unlock this potential. And that key is – the Law of the Jungle. So let’s go to Mother Nature (who wrote the original instruction book within the dogs’ DNA.) And you will see it work right in front of your eyes. Not unlike speaking Chinese to a Chinese person.
Relationships (in both the green and the concrete jungle) are built around trust, communication and cooperation. However, there are 6 vital steps we have to take in order to achieve this goal. Once we have taken these steps in our relationship with our dog – he will have the security of having his needs met and of being understood, and we will have the control that we are looking for and the enrichment that dogs bring into our lives.
And these are the Six Steps to Love:
1) No one thinks about love when they are in survival. Natural Dog Training teaches dog owners how to get their dogs out of survival mode so that they can concentrate on love, affection, protection, obedience, etc.
2) There is no love where there is civil war. So when we have established a healthy power platform, our wish will be their command.
3) People abuse people they love – but not people they respect. So respect is even more powerful than love! The way to earn our dog’s respect is not to allow him to control to us. Then we have earned his respect simply by not being his doormat. (Remember – dog owning is a relationship.)
4) Trust. We can love someone and not trust them, and we can trust someone and not love them. Love comes easy – trust, like respect – is earned.
5) It is difficult to have a healthy relationship with someone we cannot understand. So we learn the very simple Language of the Pack to help our dog adjust, fit in and cooperate with us.
6) Then, ah at last…. Now you are at “love”!! But like in all relationships, parameters need to be kept in place, (after all, they are only human!). In other words – you treat him like a child.
Because that is what our dogs are – our children.