What does your dog need?

That is a question I ask every dog owner I have the privilege to work with and it is often a question that makes the owners think because they do not often get asked or have been asked to consider their dogs needs.

Many people think they know what their dog needs but that can be based on generic information rather than actually realising what their own dog needs.

We can often be conditioned to think our dog gets bored easily and needs to be entertained in order to be having fun and this can be the case with some dogs and some dogs will cope or even thrive on that kind of interaction.

I tend to get to see the ones that don’t want or need that kind of interaction, with some of the dogs I see that can be the polar opposite of what they need and it can make for very interesting conversations when I offer an alternative point of view that more closely reflects their dogs needs.

Dogs are complex creatures and it is difficult to see the world through their eyes and to take a minute to ask ourselves why we are about to stimulate our dog and for whose benefit.

More often than not, the stimulation comes in because of what we have either been taught, have read somewhere or have been told. This doesn’t mean whatever you have been told, read or been taught is appropriate for your dog and understanding that can be difficult to hear for some people.

Our dogs need us to show then how to behave, they can’t always guess and get it right, especially if the communication and signals from us are mixed and confused. An expression I use quite frequently with my clients is this:

If you are not clear in your mind what you want your dog to do, your dog won’t be able to get it right.

That statement applies to verbal instructions, often the greatest source of confusion as we can put so many different inflections on to words that make sense to us but our dog has no way of understanding as they don’t share our understanding of tense, context or language.

It is impossible to explain yourself to your dog for that reason, dogs are very good at making associations, applying behaviour to instructions through repetition but the message has to be a consistent one to get consistent results.