See Them. Hear them. Help them.
See them, hear them, help them.
There are many times I see social media posts, talk with clients on their initial consultation, or sit in a café and witness miscommunication with dogs and owners. This usually comes in the form of a child pressuring a dog, an owner thinking their dog’s warning signs (get out of my face) are funny or cute, or a pure look of stress on the dogs face it looks as though they had multiple plastic surgeries performed. It saddens me, so I am going to try to bring it to people’s attention. For the dog.
See them, hear them, help them. These words go through my mind every day when I see what we have done to the one being that loves us, unconditionally. What people expect from them, what people find to be vindictive or manipulating from their pets.
Pets are not vindictive, not manipulative. Frustrated with our species, yes, but not out to get us. We are an angry society right now. A society that views everything is against them, or worse, that their pet must be better than the others. No questions or understanding, “just behave”- seems to be the ongoing thought process.
But my question is, do you truly see them? Do you really hear them? Do you really want to help them?
In my facility, I tend to place people in dog’s paws. So please be patient with me while I do this here and explain why our canine society has lost trust in us as true leaders. Not the aggressive leaders some may think they have to be, but leaders that see, hear and help their pack members.
Have you ever gone to work with the misunderstanding that a task needed to be done first, and your employer reprimands you for not doing another task that was on the to do list? They never clearly stated the one was more important than the other, but they did mention both tasks. You put so much hard work into this task to complete it, and yet you only received a correction for your efforts. All your hard work on the task you were doing, is unnoticed. This task was mentioned, and somewhere along the communication chain- you understood it as important and something you could get done, no problem! Did your employer see you?
You may go through the day frustrated, having small little quips towards coworkers, maybe even your employer. You may vent your frustration to others, but still you become so frustrated you cannot shake the bad mood or temper. So, you go home and lament about it, maybe start looking for other jobs, maybe bottle it up and lose sleep. When you get back to work the next day, you start to resent the position you are in. You may decide to complain to management, explaining that you felt the task you did was mentioned, but they only tell you that you have to do the task you were asked to do. Did they hear you?
At the end of day, this builds your anger. You go home again, even angrier. Maybe taking it out on family members. You verbally snap at them when they ask you a simple question, or how your day was. They walk away hurt, and in order to avoid an argument, they do not engage in conversation and leave you to your thoughts. They may suggest you getting professional help if it is prolonged, or get angry and leave. Did they help you?
Now, let’s see it from your dog’s view.
Every day, you mistakenly ask your dog to protect you. The three main areas their pack members would be vulnerable to an attack from a predator, you invite them to take the protector role. They sleep in our beds, they stay with us in the bathroom, they lay under our feet while we are eating. All of these areas, a dog is naturally vulnerable to a predator. A protector is vigilant, especially here. They jump and investigate any creek a settling house would make overnight, maybe a car door from a neighbor, or the distant alert bark from another dog in the neighborhood. You become annoyed at the disruptive sleep you are getting, and possibly correct them.
You step out of the shower and become frustrated that you have dog hair on your towel or bathmat. Worse, you may get angry that they also decided this room was a safe room to relieve themselves in. It’s protected, and other animals can only come in through that one opening.
Or you may find it adorable at times, when your dog has to be under you while you eat. Then when you have guests, or a bad day, you get angry and short tempered about the fact that they are always under foot, or begging. (Yes, we are seriously frustrating as a species).
Now, you have invited them to take on this task of protecting you in the areas a dog would most likely be attacked, so they must protect you all the time. In most cases, they look at you either before, during or after the barking to check in and ask “this is right? Yes?!” but you don’t see it. You become angry and correct them when they bark or threaten strangers at the door, or on a walk. They are doing the task you requested and getting in trouble for it. Do you see them?
Most dogs will become agitated by the miscommunication and try to communicate with jumping on you, being more alert to noises, and barking more to display they are still strong enough to do the task you keep giving them (bed, bathroom, feeding= protector). They may start releasing frustration by destroying items in the house, and/or may become more “needy”. Do you hear them?
All of this goes unnoticed so now your dog starts mouthing you, or attacking another dog in your household, maybe they become angrier at guests. They grumble and growl when you interact with them or try to move them when they are relaxing. You end up walking away or walk around wondering if they are going to be “grumpy” today. Now you contact trainers, or google training aids and apply harsh training, or training that does not directly involve you in order to fix the problem because you view this behavior as impulsive, or a challenge that came out of nowhere. Did you help them?
I am not going to say these three things will stop your dog from misbehaving, or stop aggression, but placed in the same situation as you being asked to do a job and being corrected for the “wrong job”, you may be able to understand how it happens. Basically anything your dog is doing wrong, is because we have yet to speak clearly about our expectations.
It is important to remember, in the majority of behavior cases, the human has caused it by not seeing, hearing or helping, and instead they take things personally, or resort to harsh punishment for behavior the dog did not receive clear instructions for from the start. Start to see, hear and help your dog more. If you do not know where to begin, hire someone that will help you, hear and see them. Please do not be so quick to punish or correct your dog. Place yourselves in their shoes, would you want to be shocked, spanked, or scolded for not being able to read the minds of your family or employer?
#protectfirst as always.
Contact us directly at email@example.com if you would like to learn how to see their signs, hear their language, and help them through behaviors that frustrate both of you.