The Pack Mentality
In the wild, every dog in the pack has a position/job. From the dominant (Alpha) male to the lowest level sentry everyone works for the pack. As long as the natural desires and needs of the pack and individual are provided for, they will be happy and content with their position. The dogs that perform in a superior manner, regardless of his pack "job," will receive recognition from pack leaders.
If any individual of the pack does not fulfill their obligation to the pack, for whatever reason, the other lower ranking members will challenge him for his spot. When these challenges erupt among members of a mutual pack, it is rare that bloodshed will occur to any of the participants. In fact, there is rarely any physical contact beyond a hard bump or pull at the fur. Instead, the challenge consists of a series of postures, growls, nips and barks.
The strongest survive. The "lower ranking" work hard to be appreciated. The strongest of the "lower ranking" are rewarded with appreciation from their seniors. Those who don't fulfill their purpose for the pack are banished or shunned. This is basically "pack life." It hasn't changed for thousands of years. Isn't going to change tomorrow. It is all a part of the natural selection process.
In a healthy ecosystem, without outside influence, wild packs thrive. Disease and illness are rare. Birth defects are almost unheard of. There is mutual respect and love among the members. All members of the pack are confident, secure, and eager to fulfill their natural role in the natural selection process. Sounds pretty darn nice, doesn't it?
Dogs in the Home
In domesticated dogs, the natural instincts, needs and desires are still present. Just because an animal has been "domesticated" does not mean they don't still have the same instincts. Some instincts may not be as strong as with their wild brethren, but they are still present, and an intricate part of the dog. Natural instincts influence all aspects of a dog's behavior.
Unfortunately, once a dog is brought into a family "pack," most, if not all, of the natural pack roles are completed by the humans, leaving the dog with nothing to do to contribute to the pack. In the wild, not contributing to the pack would mean almost certain banishment.
Dogs instinctively understand the need to feel good mentally and physically. In fact, I believe dogs are far more in-tune with their physical and emotional needs than people. Here is an example.
We've all seen a dog eat grass only to go throw it up in the corner of the yard ten minutes later. We look at the dog and think, "What an idiot," when in actuality he knows exactly what he's doing. Dogs know instinctually that if they have a sour stomach, and they eat grass, the grass will cause them to expel whatever was bothering their stomach and make them feel better.
"It Can Be This Easy!"
Here's an example of how reading your dog's behavior and examining his behavior can explain inappropriate behavior.
I once consulted with a couple who had already had their dog professionally trained by someone else. The dog had been "okay" since training, however, a month earlier the dog began running tearing through the house for about thirty minutes at a time. He would then stop and return to normal.
They went back to the trainer who told them the dog just needed to spend some time in refresher training. They paid for and went through the refresher training course with no results. The trainer advised them they might want to consider a remote training device (shock collar). They decided to consult other trainers before trying this technique and called me.
As I spoke with the wife on the phone, I could find nothing in their environment that should be causing this problem. They seemed to be doing everything right. We decided to meet so I could see the dog for an evaluation.
As we were setting a time, she made an off-hand comment about her husband's new cigar kick. I asked how long he had been smoking them and was told it was just over a month. The same time frame the dog had been acting out. I asked if he smoked in the house and she said after dinner he always had a smoke. This also happened to be the ONLY time he smoked in the house. I advised to have her husband smoke outside each night for two days and call me again.
When I spoke to her three days later she advised me her husband had been going outside to smoke, and the dog had immediately ceased to run laps through the house. The pungent cigar smoke was causing discomfort in the very sensitive olfactory sense of the dog. The dog, in turn, did the one thing he instinctively knew he could do to avoid the discomfort.
She also noted the dog seemed happier than normal to see dad when he came back in. She said, "It's almost like he's saying thanks!" I told her he most likely was. Dogs express appreciation to other pack members who do things to enhance the pack. The bond became stronger.
In ten minutes on the phone, by carefully studying the dog's environment and actions, this couple saved themselves hundreds of dollars, and numerous hours of unnecessary training, that would only have been ineffective and cruel. It would have broken the dog's confidence and trust in the family pack.
By following my Natural Cooperative Training System, you will:
Have a happier dog that is comfortable with his position in the family
Build a stronger bond between dog and owner
Own a properly socialized dog you won't have to worry about jumping on visitors or hurting small children
Spend less time cleaning up after your dog
Develop a healthier dog, resulting in lower veterinary costs, and a longer life with you and your family
Reduce/Eliminate/Prevent aggression - avoiding costly fines, doctor bills and lawsuits
Gain an improved confidence in your dog
Have less stress with a dog that understands his behavioral boundaries
"It's Your Choice!"
What kind of canine companion would YOU like to have? It's never too late to train, or retrain, your dog to live within the family in the most loving and cooperative way possible!
For private telephone coaching or consultations with me, using the Natural Cooperative Training System, please click here for your free 20 minute initial consultation!