Monday, March 21, 2011

Speaking Dog: The Basics Pt. 1

Let me be the first to say that I'm no dog behaviorist or expert when it comes to dog talk. Let's just say though, that it's a language you'll most definitely pick up as you spend more and more time with your dog(s). Supplement the awkward confusing "conversations" you've had with Fido with a couple of books written by PhDs, and swap stories with fellow dog lovers and you'll find your English-Dog Translation Dictionary a whole lot bigger. For now, suffice it to say that your dog is never intentionally trying to tick you off---and if he's being cute...well that's not too intentional either. They're trying to learn our language just as much as we're trying to learn theirs. To get a head start, here are a few basics that will hopefully save you and your dog some frustrating initial training sessions and/or future headaches.
    Brotherly Love
    Basil & Leo

    1. Dogs are pack animals. It's one of the reasons we love them so much. They love giving and receiving attention as much as we do. The key difference is how we humans have structured our societal/cultural norms and mistakenly expect the same of our dogs. Where we tout egalitarianism and strive for equality, dogs still work (and thrive) within the medieval norms of hierarchy. Dogs are most content when they know where exactly they stand in the pack order. Discipline and consistency will help him learn that you are his alpha. Even when your heart breaks a little each time you discipline him, just keep in mind that he's going to be happier in the long run. When the pack order is ambiguous and uncertain, it'll be exhausting for your dog to constantly try to figure out where his place is in your home. This can also lead to behavioral problems later when you're attempting to train a dog who doesn't respect you.

    Say Uncle!
    Wallie & Leo
    No, Really...Say UNCLE!
    Wallie & Lexi

    Chillin' with the gang
    Leo, Mocha, Lexi, Basil, & Wallie

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