The dog has become one of mankind’s most popular pets and this with good reason. It can be very rewarding for both dog and human to share life. But in the western world, the dog is not always allowed to be dogs. Today it is increasingly common for people to get a dog to satisfy an emotional need. We have a tendency to personify our dog, rather than letting the dog be dog and thereby thrive as the race it is – a dog first and foremost.
The dog as family
There is nothing wrong in treating your dog like a family member and wanting your dog to have the best of all worlds. We love our dogs. But a dog needs more than food, human love and a roof to sleep under. In fact, it also needs a leader. The dog is a pack animal and in its natural environment, there is always a leader of the pack.
This means that there are established rules in the pack and an opportunity to look to the pack leader for guidance. If the dog lives in a vacuum where there are no rules but gets lots of love and attention in the wrong situations (eg. if the dog gets lots of human attention and affection when the dog is uncomfortable or afraid, this just fosters more of the same mental state in the dog resulting in increased anxiety) this can cause problems. A dog mainly need to be corroborated in its positive and calm mental state.
If a dog is afraid or suffers from anxiety, it does not need to be embraced and overwhelmed by emotionally unstable energy from the pack leader (you), it needs a confident and calm leader (just as in nature) to get it to calm down and feel safe again. In nature no dog (or any other pack animal for that matter) will follow an emotionally unstable leader or a leader who sends strange or negative fearful energy that the dog does not understand.
The calm and confident leader
In nature dogs follows only one kind of leader – the calm and confident leader. Only people will follow all kinds of leaders, spiritual leaders, emotionally unstable leaders, charismatic leaders, etc. If a dog has no calm and confident leader to relate to, it can easily become unstable when the dog tries to fill the vacuum by assuming the role of pack leader by itself – this can cause unstable behavior and negative interaction between owner and dog.
Dogs are very easily influenced by the energy that radiates from the owner – the dog can tell if you are in a good mood, are afraid, anxious, happy, calm, excited, etc. The dog is affected by your behaviour and state of mind.
Lack of leadership
If the dog lacks leadership from its owner, the dog will eventually try to fill the leadership role and consider the owner as a part of the prack that the dog leads. This can lead to a lot of unwanted behavior in the dog; overprotective behavior toward its owner, aggressiveness towards strangers, the dog will feel that it owns the house, nervous behavior, etc.
Your dog senses the world through the nose first, then eyes and then ears. So if you shout or talk to a dog because you want to change your dog’s behavior, the dog will probably only understand that you make weird noises – the dog will better understand you if you use the exact same sound for correcting dog behavior every time.
Your dog needs to travel with its pack and pack leader. It wants to go exploring the world. But in nature the dog will not be allowed to run around in front of his pack leader sniffing at everything while running far ahead. If you allow your dog to do this, then your dog will perceive itself as the pack leader. It is better to establish that you are the pack leader and that you sometimes as a reward allow the dog to sniff around.
Basically, the dog should always be beside or behind his human pack leader – even when leaving the house. If the dog runs in front of his owner out of the house, it will perceive itself as the leader of the walk. The dog loves to walk with its pack, so it needs to go for long walks each day. This is important for your bond with your dog. A garden, even if the garden is very big and beautiful, is just like a cage for a dog. The dog wants to move around in the world. If your dog doesn’t get exercise and lots of exciting inputs it becomes restless and bored and that state of mind can develop into mental problems or destructive behaviour.
Dogs needs exercise
Dogs are different – some dogs have a high energy level and some dogs have less energy. If you own a dog with lots of energy, it is very important that the dog is allowed to burn off the excess energy during a long walk or other exercise if necessary. A long walk with the human in charge, not the dog, creates a deep bond between dog and human. Remember that dogs must have a leader and a solid framework of rules and the ability to work for the food (long walks, play, etc.), as in nature – this will create the best relationship between owner and dog.
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