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Monday, 28 November 2011

DOGS ARE OPPORTUNISTS - GOOD OR BAD?

JUST LIKE MOST PEOPLE DOGS ARE OPPORTUNISTS - IS THIS A GOOD THING OR A BAD THING?

Well for Sarah, my German Shepherd x Siberian Husky, being an opportunist was key to survival in her first year of life which she spent primarily as a stray. Her wiliness and great intelligence ensured that she survived! It also made her a handful for anyone who tried to ‘tame’ her.

Sarah
Perspective is everything. How you perceive and choose to support your dog’s opportunistic tendencies is up to you!

Opportunism can be good and bad in both dogs and humans. We will start with humans that way it will be easier for you to understand how this will apply to dogs.

POSITIVE OPPORTUNISM

Let’s say I see someone struggling to understand their dog’s behaviour. This person is walking their dog - the dog tugs and pulls reacting to vehicles that go by. I see this as an opportunity to use my skills and knowledge; to take five minutes out, to help this person learn how to communicate to their dog not to lunge at cars. In so doing I have the irreplaceable opportunity to help a dog; I help the dog’s human - which if they ‘get’ what I am teaching them can have a positive and profound ripple effect on all aspects of their relationship with their dog.

A win-win situation…this to me, is positive and beneficial opportunism.

NEGATIVE OPPORTUNISM

When one person takes advantage of another person or non-human animal just because there is a window of opportunity to do so - for there own gain.

SO HOW DOES A DOG EXHIBIT POSITIVE OPPORTUNISM

I have seen a lot of dogs try to be good opportunists.

I have worked with many clients’ who love their dog very much, but they think that their dog is a bad dog as the dog exhibits unwanted behaviour. I notice that the dog makes good eye contract, constantly looking at its people…but the people don’t see. The dog is trying to be positively opportunistic, but its attempts fail time and time again, because the humans are not aware and don’t see that their dog is asking for direction.

After providing direction to the dog once or twice, the dog quickly understands that it can look at me for direction and I will provide the coaching and mentoring it is seeking - the dog is a positive opportunist. It always was it’s just that no one was paying attention.

Just imagine how upsetting and frustrating this is for the dog. Yet the dog has never stopped trying…even though it was often reviled by its humans for being bad!

In the absence of direction the dog has little choice but to make up its own rules. 

Sarah asking for permission to pick tomatoes
A piece of food falls to the floor the dog moves in and grabs the food. There’s food on the counter - the dog counter surfs. When the door bell rings the dog is at the door before you are, you open the door and the dog jumps all over the guests, the dog won’t stop, won’t calm. This is opportunistic behaviour - but it can be categorized as negative opportunism…the behaviour is bad for the dog and bad for its humans…but whose fault is it?

Is it the dog’s fault?  Well many people think so, but they are wrong. Is the fault actually with the human as no one has communicated to the dog (in a way that it can understand and respect) that this is not acceptable behaviour…yes.

Humans create negative opportunism in their dogs when they fail to understand how to effectively communicate with their dogs, when they are not fully aware of their dog’s body language, when they do not provide proper leadership for their dog.

I waited until Mom said 'go'
Sarah is a great example of how opportunism forms. Sarah is a rescued canine and came with the baggage left by past humans in her life letting her down. If you have a rescued dog you inherit whatever issue the dog may have acquired. Rehabilitating and turning the issue around can be both a challenge and journey.

If you have had your dog since its puppy-hood, but have had no success curbing ‘bad’ opportunism you need to examine and correct what you are doing wrong. Remember perspective is everything. Your dog is trying to tell you, to inform you to show you how to be a better human being.

ENABLE YOUR DOG’S POSITIVE OPPORTUNISM

We often get the dog we need, not the dog we think we want. For example, if you are anxious and tense by nature - you will make your dog similarly un-balanced. Your dog is trying to give you a positive opportunity - a gift to grow as a person. You cannot help your dog, if you do not help yourself first!

Sometimes we have to adjust our expectations a little - no human is perfect, so, please do not ever expect your dog to be perfect…but also do not leave gaps were negative opportunism can thrive…by doing so, you set your dog up for failure. 

Additional Assistance

If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…

Dog Obedience Training and Behaviour Modification Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service


Notes:
Please note - this article is for information purposes and is not a substitute for an in-person Session with me. When working with dogs I use many techniques - it is important to note that this article may touch on one or several techniques but not all. I select the technique that I use for a particular dog based on my observations of the dog and an intuitive, instinctive assessment of that dog's and its human's individual requirements. For example when I am working with a dog that is hyper sensitive and very physically reactive I will not use voice or touch. I use a lot of therapeutic touch on some dogs, others require the use of herding techniques and so on. Each and every technique must be combined with:
  • an understanding of the real intelligence, sensitivity and capability of dogs;
  • an understanding of how to read a dog's face and a dog's overall body language;
  • an understanding of the full spectrum of ways that humans communicate and dogs communicate; 
  • understanding and recognition of the individual that is each dog - no two dogs are the same...taking a 'cookie cutter' approach to techniques is not the way to work with a dog;
  • a complete recognition and understanding of all the elements that feed a behaviour and create an issue:
    •  the vast majority of people can only identify one or two elements...which vastly inhibits the ability to resolve behavior issues;
    • behaviours do not exist in isolation - there are always many elements that feed a single behaviour, there all always multiple behaviours that create a behavioral issue;
  • self-restraint and discipline on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
  • sensitivity, awareness, intuition, instinct and timing on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
    • to understand, connect with and adapt quickly and effectively to a dog's learning requirements you must be able to employ the same tools a dog uses - acute sensitivity, awareness, instinct, intuition and timing;
  • kindness, endurance, consideration, patience, persistence, perspective, the ability and know how to let the past go, the ability to set realistic expectations at any one point in time;
  • the creation of structure, rules, boundaries and limitations for each situation at the macro and micro level;
  • understanding of all the elements that make up an instruction and direction to a dog...there are multiple steps involved in an instruction - not just one!
  • absolute honesty - if you cannot be honest with yourself you will not be able to communicate clearly with a dog.
These are just some of the techniques that I teach my clients - it is a holistic, all-encompassing approach. If you are missing any one element of the above mentioned your success rate will be affected to one degree or another in implementing the techniques offered in the article presented above.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

WHY DOGS SNIFF PEOPLE'S BUTTS


Well, it’s really simple, once you root around a bit...

One - If you start by observing how two dogs (who have not been taught not to be dogs!) greet each other...they do so with their noses. They sniff each others rear ends.

Two - A dog’s noise is its most powerful sense - more so than their hearing, and sight. Dogs have +/- 300 hundred million olfactory senses in their nose whereas we humans have a paltry 3 million olfactory sensors.

Three - In addition to their heightened sense of smell, dogs have anal sacs which emit scent (under their tail).

So having read the above, you can start to understand why dogs 'sniff a person's butt and/or crotch' right!

A dog uses its sense of smell to understand who you are! When a dog sniffs it receives a plethora of information...it is a feast for their senses, for their mind. It is a normal and natural thing for a dog. Scent to a dog is like another type of sight layered with additional information. Each dog, each person has their own unique scent - kind of like a finger print (the equivalent for a dog is a nose print).


 As long as the sniff is not too intrusive - i.e. a gentle sniff - rather than prodding you with his nose there is nothing wrong with allowing a dog to greet you like this. If the dog prods you - don't be angry just turn a little to your side and lean or move a little into the dogs space (be calm) and the dog will normally back-off. Don't withdraw as when you do so, you yield your space to the dog - that is giving it permission to take over your space.

I always try to put things in terms of human understanding so it is easier to grasp the impact of what we do to our dogs...

If you are fearful, nervous or angry you are confusing the situation for the dog - telling it that what should be normal and natural is not. This can really upset and even traumatize the dog, it can also make the dog reactive.

Look at it this way, what if you reached up to give a handshake to a person you just met and they recoiled in horror or anger - you would be shocked and confused too!

To help you understand a little more on the subject you can read these two short articles...





Additional Assistance

Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.
Notes:
Please note - this article is for information purposes and is not a substitute for an in-person Session with me. When working with dogs I use many techniques - it is important to note that this article may touch on one or several techniques but not all. I select the technique that I use for a particular dog based on my observations of the dog and an intuitive, instinctive assessment of that dog's and its human's individual requirements. For example when I am working with a dog that is hyper sensitive and very physically reactive I will not use voice or touch. I use a lot of therapeutic touch on some dogs, others require the use of herding techniques and so on. Each and every technique must be combined with:
  • an understanding of the real intelligence, sensitivity and capability of dogs;
  • an understanding of how to read a dog's face and a dog's overall body language;
  • an understanding of the full spectrum of ways that humans communicate and dogs communicate; 
  • understanding and recognition of the individual that is each dog - no two dogs are the same...taking a 'cookie cutter' approach to techniques is not the way to work with a dog;
  • a complete recognition and understanding of all the elements that feed a behaviour and create an issue:
    •  the vast majority of people can only identify one or two elements...which vastly inhibits the ability to resolve behavior issues;
    • behaviours do not exist in isolation - there are always many elements that feed a single behaviour, there all always multiple behaviours that create a behavioral issue;
  • self-restraint and discipline on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
  • sensitivity, awareness, intuition, instinct and timing on the part of the human who is directing the dog;
    • to understand, connect with and adapt quickly and effectively to a dog's learning requirements you must be able to employ the same tools a dog uses - acute sensitivity, awareness, instinct, intuition and timing;
  • kindness, endurance, consideration, patience, persistence, perspective, the ability and know how to let the past go, the ability to set realistic expectations at any one point in time;
  • the creation of structure, rules, boundaries and limitations for each situation at the macro and micro level;
  • understanding of all the elements that make up an instruction and direction to a dog...there are multiple steps involved in an instruction - not just one!
  • absolute honesty - if you cannot be honest with yourself you will not be able to communicate clearly with a dog.
These are just some of the techniques that I teach my clients - it is a holistic, all-encompassing approach. If you are missing any one element of the above mentioned your success rate will be affected to one degree or another in implementing the techniques offered in the article presented above.