It’s Not Cruel To Be Kind
Oftentimes, I am asked how I can “read the dogs mind”. “Actually it isn’t that difficult,” is my usual answer. The reason I can determine the cause of the dog’s behavior is based on the facial expressions of their human, and many times the body language of the person. The behaviors of the dogs aren’t very different from one dog to another, the real differences are the people, breed of the dogs, etc.
I can not only see how a dog is being treated based on his unwanted behavior(s) but how the owners are administering their corrections towards the puppy/dog. The latter is evident by the owners body language, and or facial expressions, and the way the dog might react to sudden movements by their person.
The hard part for me as a trainer is trying to communicate to the puppy/dog that it’s not its fault.
A good dog trainer doesn’t just train behaviors in or out of the dog but we need to find out the deeper issues behind the dogs unwanted actions and possibly the reason why the human(s) corrects the puppy/dog the way that they do. Many times humans correct the dog roughly due to misunderstanding of the breed, ignorance of the correct way to train, or bad advice from friends, family, or the internet.
I won’t criticize or judge a person reaching out for my help but I will be honest. My first concern is for the dog, and then if I see true willingness from the person, I then will be more cautious of how I offer my advice through training and help them to see why their way is not the best and that there are other paths to correct various unwanted behaviors in a much more efficient way without pain and hurting the puppy/dogs mental health.
Here is an example, I thought of yesterday: If you witness a person hitting their toddler in a very destructive way because the child was throwing toys, running off, or yelling, etc…typical toddler behaviors. You wouldn’t go up to the adult and say, “I saw him pulling on you and throwing things! Are you okay? Is your hand alright?” No! You would either come up to the person and ask if you can help or find someone (authority figure) at that moment that could talk to the individual before the situation would escalate and truly damage the child. Perhaps the person is over their head because the toddler is trying the patience of the parent and they might not realize what they are doing is wrong. However, if they are knowingly doing this, as a way to release their frustration then they need professional help for the sake of the child, and for themselves.
So why do we continue on hurting our pets? And why keep using painful tools to manage behaviors or pushing, pulling or verbally demeaning the puppy/dog? The dog is behaving like a dog and doing dog things and like the example of a toddler’s behavior, it most often backfires on the person- subjecting the puppy/dog and the toddler, and in both scenarios the human and canine oftentimes can turn on their abuser(s) or another unsuspecting animal or human. This abuse can also stall the pet/human’s mental and emotional development.
🐾 Please, be kind or when you might be feeling mentally/emotionally challenged, just stop and take a deep breath and if you still feel frustrated, ask yourself, “How do I want to be treated?”