There is not a day that goes by when I don’t feel blessed that when I was fumbling in the dark for which route to take when it came to studying to be a Dog Behaviourist/Dog Trainer, I was lucky enough to stumble upon truth. The true nature of dogs.
I had read many books and contacted many colleges – all of whom were taking their sweet time to get back to me – but I was unsure which techniques to study. While I was waiting, I stumbled across “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell. Reading it, it was like a light bulb going on in my head, and the penny dropping all at once. “Ohhhhhhhhhh!!!! This makes total sense“. I knew this was the path I had to take.
Up until that point, all the literature I had read about dog behaviour had left me with a feeling of “Well I can see how that could work”, but without any feeling of conviction. These books were all very scientific and there was no mention of anything that really resonated with me when it came to understanding dogs better.
Jan’s approach, known as Amichien Bonding, is all about looking at things from the dog’s perspective. Understanding what is going on for them, and working with them on this basis. Hence why she choose the title Dog LISTENER. We are listening to, and understanding them. If you haven’t read the book I strongly recommend that you do. Here’s my synopsis of the true nature of dogs, and how we get it wrong.
How we get it wrong
We look at dogs in terms of what we want out of them. How we think that they should fit into our lives. Largely due to societal conditioned expectations. We think about how great it will be to have company at home, someone who is always pleased to see us, gives us an excuse to go outside everyday and get exercise whilst walking them. Etc etc. Very few of us stop to consider what the dog will be thinking about the realtionship. But if we do we are likely to assume that they are happy that they are being given a good home, are being looked after and taken for walks, after all – that’s what society tells us is the case, and that’s what it looks like, so why would we think anything else.
We then don’t understand or get annoyed by behaviour in them which is contrary to this expectation. We try various tactics that we’ve learned about in blogs, books or from dog training classes, or what well meaning friends and family tell us – but everything we are learning is ‘downstream’. What I mean by that is that the problem is further ‘upstream’. In some cases these interventions appear to get a result, so people keep choosing these options – but the results are often temporary, or don’t solve the whole problem.
The true nature of dogs
Left to their own devices, dogs would be pack animals and their main concern would be survival. Survival is dependant upon finding food, protecting themselves from dangers and continuing the pack (breeding). These instincts do not go away if you put a roof over their heads, so their attention turns to working out who is responsible for the survival of this human/dog pack. Understanding this is the priority for them. So every interaction we have with them is considered in this context. “What does this mean in terms of who is looking after the pack?” Invariably they get the message that we aren’t looking after the pack, because we simply aren’t looking at life through the same lenses that they are, so we don’t do the things that they would expect someone who was looking after them to do.
Many times people contact me with the strongly held belief that their dog does see them as looking after the pack. On further investigation, it turns out that their dog doesn’t. Every time. Accepting that this might be the case is the first step to being compassionate with your dog, and moving in a direction where you can learn the signs they need to see to know that you are taking care of everything.
When you understand the true nature of dogs…
…and how to show them that they aren’t in charge of the survival of your pack, you are dealing with the problem ‘upstream’ at its source. Then they are able to return to their factory default of relaxing and enjoying play and affection. This is what happens for those who learn Amichien Bonding (AB) and how to apply it with their dogs. It is my absolute pleasure to teach this to dog owners around Essex and slightly beyond. Today one of my clients described what they had learned as a “paradigm shift” as well as “truth” and “a relief to understand”. I feel humbled to be able to share this information, so more and more dog owners and dogs get the benefit. Thank you for this opportunity!
Part 2 – coming soon. The true nature of the human experience…!