Why Education is So Important for All Dogs

 

   The natural wolf pack in the wild is a family of individuals. The Alpha pair is the Mother and Father, there may be an aunt or uncle, older siblings form previous litters and there may be a current litter of pups. As with a human family Mom and Dad are the leaders, they set the rules and boundaries under which the family structure thrives. The Alpha pair is the mating pair, generally not closely related prior to their union, all family members play a part in the raising of pups and adolescents. There exists a hierarchy, everyone has their place but in a natural pack constant vying for the top spot is not an issue. In a forced pack where wolves from different areas are brought together by humans in the hope reestablishing there presence in an area from which wolves are absent it may take longer for the hierarchy to be sorted out as there is no natural Alpha pair already in existence. The “children” generally stay with the pack until they reach young adulthood at which time some will disperse, leave their family in search of a mate and a territory in which to start a new “family”.

   Domestic dogs share 99.8% of their genetic makeup with Canis lupus the gray wolf thus the designation of the dog as Canis lupus familiaris. In the study of the similarity of the behaviors of wolves and dogs there are very few differences. Some behaviors and or patterns of behaviors in dogs such as a full hunt sequence have been altered or arrested to varying degrees through the process of domestication and selective breeding. However the majority of natural behaviors exhibited by wolves are also exhibited by dogs.

   When we adopt a puppy or younger dog into our home and family as well as into that special place within our “hearts” we essentially become its parent or parents. With the adopted older dog our role may be more like that of a friend, mentor and benevolent leader. No matter the age, breed or mix of the dog we become responsible for teaching the dog how to behave appropriately within our “social pack”, our family. We need to be clear in our expectations, the rules and boundaries we set forth should be consistent, fair and realistic. Successful integration depends on these things in order to facilitate the dog’s becoming a well mannered, completely accepted and cherished member of our family.

   This model of “educating” a family dog bears tremendous similarity as to how an adoptive parent or guardian taking their new responsibility seriously would then proceed to raise and guide an infant, child, adolescent or young adult taken into their care. Of course with a senior dog the model shifts slightly for the dog is already an adult and there fore you are simply inviting him/her into your home and family. This will be your sleeping quarters, you may put your belongings here, the toilet facilities are this way, I will let you know when to expect mealtimes, and please let me know if there is anything you need. By the way these two rooms down the hall are private thank you for respecting that, as for the rest of the home and yard make your self comfortable, we are delighted to bring you into our family.

   Calm direction, polite conversation verbal or down the leash, and a few reminders may be all that you need to integrate an older dog into your family. He/she may already be “house trained”, know how to walk well on a leash, be respectful of furnishings and décor, understand that “dumpster diving” anywhere in the home is unacceptable, and that one does not merely help themselves to food items within reach but waits for the offering of them. Should you find some of these social skills lacking they can be taught to the older dog fairly quickly particularly if you remain respectful of his/her age and mindful that they are an adult and not a puppy.

Recent Scientific Research and studies using conscious dogs voluntarily participating in comparative MRI scans with those of human volunteers have some scientists arriving at the inescapable conclusion (one which many “animal and dog lovers” in many cases have already determined) that “dogs are people too. Prominent scientists have signed a declaration that animals have conscious awareness, just like us.

   With my “Educational” philosophy with regards to working with dogs I have experienced that familiarizing my dogs with the meanings of human spoken words, and overtime by creating somewhat more complex sentences and variable phrasings I have dogs who cognitively understand a great extent of what I say to them in daily family type conversation. Though some may be skeptical, in my experience it is somewhat like a “Helen Keller moment”, where things make sense. This is awesome but in order for there to be a “conversation” I have had to learn the language of dogs. It consists of several complex components including but not limited to vocalizations of various intensities, tones, durations, and pauses, body language composed of posturing, both gross and finite manipulation of body parts, tensing and releasing of various muscle groups producing both subtle and obvious variances in features and expression, and “energy recognition” comparable to mindset and balance if you will.

   Having achieved this way of listening and responding a “conversation” is able to take place. “Bilingual” may not quite encompass the detail of what I wish to express fully so I will coin or create the term “bi-communicational”. We are not fluent in the ability to “speak” the others language, however we each speak and respond in our “native” tongue and the recipient is somewhat fluent to degrees in the understanding of what the conservation is about, regarding or expressing.

   “The most significant difference between training and educating an animal, I learned from Strongheart, lies in the matter of emphasis. It depends on whether one places emphasis on the mental or physical part of the animal.”

“Moving into the situation with insight and intuition, he (the animal educator) places full emphasis on the mental rather than the physical part of the animal. He treats it as an intelligent fellow being whose capacity for development and expression he refuses to limit in any direction. He knows that the animal’s appearance, actions and accomplishments are only the outward expressions of its state of mind. He seeks to help the animal make use of its thinking faculties, so that there will be corresponding results in its looks, character and actions.” J. Allen Boone

 

Author: Marjanna Wornell

Master Trainer

Middle Earth Canine Academy

 

References:

Dog’s brain scans reveal vocal responses.
By Rebecca Morelle


Science reporter, BBC World Service
20 February 2014

 

DOGS ARE PEOPLE TOO
By Gregory Berns


Published October 5, 2013
The New York Times


SUNDAY REVIEW

Brain scans show that dogs are as conscious as human children.
George Divorsky

Prominent scientists sign declaration that animals have conscious awareness just like us.
George Divorsky

 

KINSHIP WITH ALL LIFE
Allen Boone
Copyright, 1954 by Harper & Brothers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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