BOUNDARIES by Joan Klucha and North Shore News
I often find myself pondering the human/canine dilemma and wonder why on earth would dogs make the choice to subject themselves to us…willingly?
Do you think that a dog said, ‘yes we would like to be so misunderstood in so many ways that it creates dissension between the human folk regarding our care, feeding and the training’.
I doubt that they thought those things at all. In fact, if we are going by the evolutionary development of dogs and humans, dogs chose to come into our lives because we gave them a free ride. They’ve trained us to make their lives super easy to live.
With humans as their caregivers they no longer had to feed themselves or find a warm dry sheltered place to sleep and got a few added extras to their existence such as affection, car rides, fancy collars and leashes and being dressed up in human clothing to name a few luxuries of living with humans. All great rewards from us humans for our dogs.
But what humans seem to have forgotten in the evolutionary process of the human/canine relationship is that dogs are well, dogs.
This means that given the opportunity, they will be dogs since that is the only thing they know how to be. Some people may think, “And so what’s so bad about that?” Well, it becomes bad when a dog being a dog, interferes with a human-being a human and causing great disharmony in their lives.
When that happens, dog poop starts to hit the fan and well and a dog trainer is called in to clean it up. This is done by setting boundaries for a dog to live within as well as limitations for the expression of unwanted behaviour combined with ways to encourage wanted behaviour.
Boundaries and limitations are not and should not be considered a form of ‘dominance over a dog’. The words Dominance, Alpha, Pack Leader, Master, Top dog etc. have been so misinterpreted, and misused in so many incorrect ways over the years that they have become politically incorrect to utter in even the slightest form of conversation regarding dogs. The words themselves are not bad, the very old school abusive training associated with them is.
What boundaries and limitations mean is teaching a dog to limit their (human perceived) unwanted dog behaviours and live within the boundaries of a human existence creating a harmonious environment instead of a stressful one.
Not allowing a dog to rush up and down the stairs ahead of an owner is not saying Alpha humans first dogs second. What it is, is setting a boundary for the dog to limit its unwanted dog behaviour of rushing and teaching a dog to wait until the human passes, to encourage a natural wanted dog behaviour of patience. Yes a dog can be patient if given the opportunity.
A dog prevented from going out the door first, is not having dominance asserted over them but rather teaching a dog a natural wanted dog behaviour of self control by sitting and waiting to have their leash put on before they go out the door which will prevent them from expressing an unwanted dog behaviour of running into the street, chasing an animal, child, jogger etc. which may cause harm somehow. It also teaches a dog to look for direction and guidance, which are two wanted natural dog behaviours that dogs are more than willing to express if given the opportunity.
Not allowing dogs to run around the house like its a race track is not a “Master’ limiting a dogs enthusiasm but setting a boundary that uses a natural wanted dog behaviour of calm and peacefulness instead of the unwanted frenetic behaviour.
Limiting unwanted behaviours and encouraging wanted behaviours makes it easier for dogs and their person to understand one another. Dogs become more predictable as they begin to seek ways to express those wanted behaviours and illicit wanted behaviours from their person.
Setting boundaries for your dog to live within decreases stress for both dogs and humans. With limited stress a dog begins to engage more with their person.
When a dog seeks to engage with their person peace and harmony are created within the home and relationship shared by a dog and their person.