Human beings have domesticated many things in our evolution. With an explosion of pets in our homes, it was only a matter of time before we found other human beings writing about how we have domesticated the canines in our lives. Dogs are not allowed to be dogs. Breeds of dogs that were bred for a reason to hunt or herd or retrieve now lie around on our sofas.
Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell is registering an official complaint: “Dogs aren’t allowed to be dogs anymore,” she says. “It’s great they’re living in our homes, but they have less freedom.” Stilwell, best known from the Animal Planet show “It’s Me or the Dog,” explains that all dogs were all bred to do something. Today most are unemployed with no outlet to express natural behaviors.
“Dogs share our bedrooms. We love them. But how often are we there for them? We’re so busy now,” she says. Dog daycare is a great option for dogs that sit around and wait for the next meal. In a good dog day care, they can be stimulated and allow them to be like dogs, engage with others, herd others, and hunt for a treat in a maze of objects. Dog day care can stimulate both their physical and mental capabilities.
As a case study example, imagine if you would a kindergarten class that has 7 hours of recess and only 1 hour of structured time. You would get your child home every day in a crazy state and soon would start complaining a lot! Is this your dog? Do you punish your dog for the choices you make for your dog?
Dogs are not allowed to be dogs
All these factors combined explain why today’s dogs are suffering from more behavior problems, according to Stilwell. “And it (dog behavior) gets worse because when the dog is peeing on the couch or is hyperactive, we blame the dog — and we get really angry. The pet may be given up.” According to experts, dogs retain their short term memory over a 4-second window. By the time you arrive home to see the wet couch, the dog’s memory of the event is gone.
Stilwell, says she understands why we get mad; after all, we’re merely human. But striving to understand why a dog is “acting out” is far more helpful. “There’s a great deal of misinformation out there, that if repeated often enough, people believe as fact,” she says. “One example of a myth becoming a fact is that you have to be a pack leader, and need to dominate your dog into submission in order to get your dog to behave. That’s utter nonsense. Dogs know we’re not a part of their dog pack; they realize we’re human and not (dogs).” In fact, dogs look up to humans for leadership. Most household pets are good and calm and have outstanding attributes, very gentile creatures. They are not the wolf packs that many trainers would have you believe.
No sofa jumping allowed
Stilwell, based in Atlanta, Ga., believes dogs do look to people for leadership and structure with consistent rules. For example, if Mom and Dad prohibit the dog from jumping on the sofa, but daughter Susie not only allows it, but encourages the dog to snuggle with her on the sofa when her parents aren’t around, this is confusing to the pet. Stilwell is adamant that dogs never break rules to rule us, or to be dominant.
“It just doesn’t happen. We know how dogs think. Dogs just never behave badly on purpose to ‘get back at us’ or to ‘show us who’s boss,'” she notes. Our point in dog day care is that dogs are the perfect clients. They never talk back to a handler, they love the handlers like family and they never talk or text on a smart phone. We have their attention.
Another fallacy is that to train dogs with behavior issues requires forceful or aversive (punishment/negative) methods. The truth is, punishment is unlikely to communicate what the dog did wrong, and it never communicates what you WANT the pet to do. Aversive training methods can also create anxiety and/or diminish the human/animal bond.
“I don’t care what you’ve heard, seen or read, there’s absolutely no upside to aversive training methods,” Stilwell says. We only use Positive training methods at Happy Hound Dog Resorts. Come see us today, try out some “Try Me Out Day Care” for a couple of hours, go run some errands, let us work with your dog on stimulating the mind and body at our facility.