What would a dog tell us, if he could talk, about the problematic behaviors he presents and bother us, to such an extent that we often make the decision to give the dog. Listen to him
“Voice” to a dog, who is handed over to another family because he exhibited undesirable behaviors, gives the graduate positive dog trainer VSA-CDT, Angelika Herra.
For dog owners / guardians to understand his simple thinking, and how simple everything is, if they take care to interpret his body language.
“The illustrative examples of a dog’s problem behaviors that follow, are, unfortunately, a daily routine for many guardians and a reason for the animal to leave, or even abandon, the family.
A dog is a sentient being. Therefore, he has needs: biological, emotional, social, educational and development of his cognitive abilities, in order to make the right choices.
If every guardian knows, respects and meets the needs of his dog, a harmonious and happy coexistence with him is a given.
Let us not forget that the dog chose to come close to man tens of thousands of years ago, and his desire is to make us happy.
Let us not disappoint him, because he is with us only for a few years.
“It is magic and a blessing to communicate and live with a dog”, points out Mrs. Herra, and becomes the “interpreter” in the “monologue” of a dog.
When I was trying to communicate with you through my eyes, my ears and my tail, even my teeth. But also with my yawning, barking, hair and slippers. That is, with my whole body.
To express my feelings and thoughts to you.
My behaviors – right and wrong – are all a sign and result of my current emotional state.
1. Do you remember Christmas, when you took me with you to the mall?
I was so scared!
He had unknown, scary noises and a lot of people, who may have looked a lot like you, but to me it was a big threat. I did not know them at all.
They were constantly coming towards me and trying to touch my head with some big poles – you people say hands.
At one point, out of the crowd, a smaller man came running and shouting – kid you said.
I was so scared and tired that to avoid it, I gave a lightning bite.
It was the only way for me to be saved! I had no other way out. I had to do something to get him away from me.
You then panicked. You called me. I, too, was even more frightened.
All I understood was that these small people (children) are very dangerous.
Since then, whenever I meet a child, I bark like crazy to make it go away. I do not want him to approach me because I will be scared again.
Every time I’m scared or unsafe and you do not realize it in time from the signals I give you, having no other choice, I may have to bite, again.
Know, however, that I do not like to bite at all. Nor should I get involved in quarrels. And if I ever have to behave in this unjust way – for your world – it’s for my survival.
When I feel threatened, my body and mind are on alert to protect me.
You humans have the same mechanism when you are scared or in the face of a threatening situation.
Our body, when in a state of emergency or intense stress, in order to stay safe, secretes two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol.
When there is too much cortisol in my blood, I am not able to know and understand anything you are trying to show me.
If I had socialized as a puppy, gradually and at the right age (about 8-16 weeks), I would not have these behavioral problems now.
If you had read a book about dogs, or contacted a positive trainer, he would have explained to you that with appropriate desensitization and / or positive learning exercises through positive reinforcement, I would have better reactions to so many different and unfamiliar situations.
2. Another time, I remember, we went to a dog park together. That’s what they called it. I, however, for the first time in my life met so many dogs together.
It was stormy. The so-called flooding, in the language of psychologists.
Until that day, I only considered our house a safe place.
When you bought me, I did not even get to know my little sisters. As soon as we were born, they started, after a few days, to divide us into different families.
Our mother must have been very sad, but I did not get enough of her as much as I would have liked. Not even two months! He did not even manage to teach me basic behaviors.
And so now I do not feel self-confidence, nor security, among so many unknown dogs, of all sizes and temperaments.
I would rather you introduce me to a dog that looks a little like me, and gradually start making new friends. And you know, I can get excited and later have fun in the dog park too. And play with them.
Because through beautiful experiences I learn very quickly – it is called classic dependent learning. It’s just that no one taught me how to play, since I was separated from my mother and siblings early.
3. That Monday, when you had to leave me alone at home for quite some time, it was honestly very difficult to manage everything I was feeling.
You were the only person I met as a baby. I became emotionally attached to you during the first minutes of our acquaintance.
Since then, I have never been home alone. As soon as the door behind you closed, the whole world was lost to me. I started crying, barking, but in vain, since you did not listen to me.
I tried to come find you, but I could not open the door. I left only scratches on her.
Later, as time went on, the fear that you left me grew.
After chewing all my toys, out of anxiety to find you, I went to your office which had a strong smell of you. And I started chewing on everything up there.
At one point my stomach ached – probably from all the strange objects I had chewed – and later I soiled almost all the carpets in the house. I had nowhere else to go.
I was waiting for you with anxiety and terror alone, but you nowhere… All I wanted was to come to you. I did not know how to live alone…
Finally, after many hours of loneliness and despair, exhausted, I fell asleep somewhere in a corner near your bed.
When, at last, you returned home, my torment was not over. While I was longing for your hug, you quarreled with me, locked me on the balcony and ran to fix the house from the damage, which I inadvertently caused. In my panic to seek to find you.
Dog trainers call it separation anxiety syndrome. It is treated with the right exercises and knowledge, but the best solution in all matters is prevention, they say.
What if you used to send me to an instructor to learn to obey orders like: sit, get up, lie down, little leg, stay, and the like.
Most importantly, that trainer did not teach you: how I think and feel when I do not understand your world, and how to communicate with me in such a simple, but misunderstood, “language” of dogs. The “body language”.
Now I miss you forever.
After you are tired with me and can no longer bear to stay at your house, you decided to hand me over to another family.
I have to learn to trust again from the beginning, new guardians and new situations. Again unknown to me.
And this time I will have an extra suitcase, full of several unpleasant memories and experiences.
I heard that in 2014 scientists in Hungary did a test on dogs (called magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) and discovered a lot about our minds and emotions.
They say that almost all positive dog trainers teach guardians how dogs think, that they know the findings of science and help dogs a lot to understand the world around them. Without fear and anxiety, but through rewarding and positively reinforcing behaviors.
With positive training techniques, a dog is able to make the right choices so that it has a harmonious coexistence within a family.
If you also knew and showed me – in my language – what you want me to do and how to behave, we would still be happy together.
I hope the new family that will adopt me will find the right trainer and make me a happy dog. That he will love and trust the people around him. No behavioral problems.
I will never forget you, because you were the first one I met in my life. You offered me food, shelter, affection, love, but in the end a dog needs something more… To feel him and to know how simply he thinks “.
▪Ms. Angelika Herra is a VSA-CDT Positive Trainer, a Certified Member of the Doggone Safe (Dog Bite safety Educator) and the head of the ACG Alumni Stray Action Committee. He also participates voluntarily in animal welfare activities.
● «Hierarchy of Dog Needs», Linda Michaels M.A. Psychology
● «Stress in dogs, what we can’t see», Hanne Grice
● «In Defence of Dogs», John Bradshaw
● Article by Marc Prigg for Dailymail.com, 29/8/2016