Bringing it all together
This past week I have broken down the mechanics of considering the whole dog holistically and the mechanics of behavioural modification.
I did this to bring attention to the dog as a species, every dog, whether they be in a home or a shelter, feral or a street dog. Past dogs, present dogs and future dogs.
And considering dogs as members of the family, not as a part of the home and removing connotations that a dog is "just a dog." Because dogs are so much more, they are just as complex and important as us.
It's important for dog professionals to highlight the needs of dogs within our platforms. I have referenced, research papers and studies and sign posted to other places of canine educational content.
The only way that we as dog professionals can effectively help you as an owner (guardian) to care for your dog and ensure that you are meeting your dogs needs and adhering to the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is by supporting both ends of the leads and education.
Most of the time by the time that a dog owner (guardian) asks for help 95% of the time, you are burnt out. You've done everything you know how to do, you have googled, you've had both welcomed and unwelcomed unsolicited information, you have tried your best.
This is what we as professionals need to recognise. We need to be compassionate and caring and astute to this. I recently spoke for INTODogs on the "puppy blues" and this encapsulates one stretch of life for a dog's entire life - puppyhood. But what about the adult "blues".
We cannot put a timeline on when you're going to have a behaviour problem or feel lost. It is all relevant and important to recognise this.
Conversely we need to recognise dogs for the wonderful species that they are!
32 countries across the world currently recognise dogs as sentient beings including the UK but until we spread education as to what this means and how this changes the lives of dogs, as there is no way of the law being checked upon and welfare regulated it's easy for this to slip from the collective mind. For example when dogs have been attacked and injured as a result of a human, the dog has not been categorised as anything more than a short sentence and a fine. UK Gov (2017).
The socially constructed status of dogs, whether viewed as a pet or a companion, influences the philosophy, methods and training skills used. Simultaneously, the socially constructed status of the use of the terms owner/master/guardian will also influence the choice of training. Sanders.C, (1993).
This is why in my blogs I write owner (guardian) to hopefully fully transition to guardian one day and everyone will understand what it is meant by guardian. As although the term has been around since 1993 it is still classed as complex dog professional lingo.
Sharing information as to what to expect from behavioural modification and the relevance, how this helps you and your dog, can help to create an understanding of not only what to expect but to help in the education of dog owners (guardians).
By being transparent and by enabling dog owners (guardians) hopefully this helps you to feel validated and recognised, as sometimes when you first reach out, you may feel you are being made to jump through hurdles, especially if you have been to a dog professional before and not experienced any of this.
This is another reason to highlight this, to ensure that you know what to look for when hiring someone and when you do reach out for help. Because your dog is special, unique and deserves the best.
This is also why dog professionals cannot guarantee a timescale to help your dog or promise to "fix" dog behaviour within a month to six week scale. As frustrating as this may be, because sometimes with frustration you just want to move forward, the dog can be helped in a much quicker and longer lasting route when they are cared for as a whole dog with a holistic approach.
By considering all of the categories of caring for a dog holistically we can help to change the emotions of a dog rather than seeing a dog as a behaviour(s) that needs fixing. Like a human, emotions don't need fixing but do need help in becoming positive emotions and learning how to work with negative emotions rather than suppress them - such as journaling for humans which we looked at within one of the categories.
Behaviour modification is about you, the dog owner (guardian) and your dog(s), the more that you are both supported and validated the more that we can help. It isn't about putting your life under a microscope and judging you, it is in fact the complete opposite.
We want to empower you to have the best life that you can with your dog!
Participation, E. (2006) Animal Welfare Act 2006, Legislation.gov.uk. Statute Law Database. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/contents
Sanders, C. 1993. Understanding dogs: Caretakers attributions of mindedness in canine-human relationships. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 22: 205-226.
Department for Environment, F.& R.A. (2017) Sentences for animal cruelty to increase tenfold to five years,gov.uk
Available at: https://www.gov.uk/.../sentences-for-animal-cruelty-to...
Animal cruelty (revised 2017) Sentencing available at: https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/.../animal-cruelty...
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