Dog Logic – Preface
Dog Logic – Preface
Our love for the dog we adopted and his affection for us, is a two edged sword. This is based mainly on the misconception, on both sides, that the other side ‘understands’ him and speaks his language. We have a tendency to anthropomorphize dogs, and they to ‘caninise’ us. The result? A fragile tower of Babel, in danger of imminent toppling over.
Even if you think your dog is super intelligent because he barks only at the neighbor you hate – this is not the case. On the other hand Rexy is not such an idiot as he appears when he chews the slipper that you have threatened him not to turn into a rag. In spite of evolution and domestication, every dog still regards the family as a pack. For him the head of the family is leader of the pack, the house is his territory and he is supposed to be a faithful member of this little group.
If he is supposed to be such a faithful member, why is he capable of biting us, doing damage to household articles and using the family territory as his toilet? The answer is because we haven’t worked to the rules that he understands. Dogs don’t ‘do it on purpose’ and don’t ‘understand us’, as we understand these concepts in our world
To illustrate this, here are three examples taken from our daily lives:
- While out walking with the dog, he comes upon a pile of cat faeces that he finds very interesting. As he enthusiastically smells it you mumble to yourself ‘what on earth possesses him? When he begins to eat the stinking faeces you begin to realise that this filthy mouth is kissed by the family and heaven knows what diseases you could pick up. Your reaction is to pull the dog away while loudly scolding him. The dog retreats and goes onto the next challenge. Just before you consider yourself an expert on dog manners and congratulate yourself on teaching your dog etiquette, here’s what your dog thinks to himself. ‘I found a rich treasure and bent to check its worth. To my sorrow, the leader of the pack is interested in the treasure for himself, otherwise what reason would he have for attacking me? I shall have to wait for the right moment and do one of two things: either grab the treasure when he is not looking, or harm the boss and take over as pack leader myself.’ So what’s the best way to prevent your dog from picking up food or articles in the street? Go to the relevant passage.
- Your dog has once again found a sunny spot in the lounge; he lies on his back enjoying the warmth of the sun’s rays on him. For sure, he’s the cutest thing in the world, isn’t he? You pounce on him with hugs and kisses, convinced that your great shower of love shows him just how dear to your heart he is. This is what your dog thinks to himself: ‘I’ve had a long day, I ran for two hours in the park. The pack leader is approaching me, what does he want? Cant he see I’m resting, what a nag he is, believe me, these people have no manners.’ So what is the right way to touch the dog? Go to the relevant passage.
- Your new couch has become your dog’s favourite place. After admonishing him untold times, he has stopped trying to sit on it in your presence. In your estimation he understands that it is your precious property, not his, and in the same vein you could expect him to understand that he should wipe his feet at the door so as not to dirty the floor. This is what your dog thinks to himself: ‘The leader of the pack doesn’t want me to climb on the couch; he sees it as his private property. If I do he will attack me, so I’ll have to wait till he’s not around because it’s fun to lie on the couch.’ So what is the best way to prevent the dog from destroying property? Go to the relevant passage. Grabbing him, scolding, anger, punishment or bribing with food – none of these will teach your dog what you want of him. Instead of raising him to be the best friend you could ever have, you risk turning him into a confused creature, with no understanding of why you are not happy with him, and who is likely to vent his frustration in aggression.
There are three ways of preventing the dog from doing certain actions:
- Distract his attention when he is doing something unwanted with a positive external stimulus. Does the dog start to fight with his colleagues in the park? Throw a tennis ball and immediately he forgets the origins of the conflict and runs off to retrieve the ball.The advantage: attaining cease fireThe disadvantage: as with Hamas, every cease fire is fragile and the effect is short term only.
- Restrain and limit the dog physically. The dog tries to run after cars in the street? Put him on a leash. If he wants to pick up rubbish in the road, put a muzzle on him.The advantage: the dog can’t implement negative actions.The disadvantage: the dog becomes frustrated and the minute he can he will express even more aggression than before.
- The operative conditioning approach – the most effective and longest lasting method. This approach maintains that that the dog’s negative behaviour should be corrected immediately and in such a way that he does not connect the correction to you. The instant that the dog begins to behave in an unwanted manner, I surprise him with an immediate and sharp correction. As soon as the dog retreats. I call him in and relate to him in the most encouraging and friendly manner, thus releasing his built up tension and fright. This is how a dog develops the connection that a certain action on his part produces a negative result, without him connecting us to this negative result. In fact, just the opposite occurs; his owner is the one who comforts him when something bad happens. As a result of this, not only will he stop doing the negative action, he will also learn to ‘report’ to his owner in times of distress. This approach also teaches the dog not to indulge in negative actions when he is far away from us because he doesn’t connect us to the punishment. The punishment results, from his point of view from ‘force majeure’. The dog wants order and hierarchy in his world, exactly as it was for his distant ancestors in nature. He wants to know who the pack leader is, the rules and routine of the pack and which actions lead to which results. A contented dog id a dog who understands you.
The following chapters will help you understand the dog’s language and how to teach him yours.
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