We live in a free world don’t we? In fact, if we lose choice in our lives it’s quite stressful. We need the ability to choose, for our emotional and psychological health.
Yet how often do we really offer our dogs the chance to choose? We live with them, we train them, we interpret them according to what we think we know and we force our own version of belief onto our dogs.
We choose their friends, their interactions and for generations we have even been choosing their partners for reproduction, or even whether they reproduce at all.
We dictate when they eat, when they sleep and when the leave the home. In fact, come to think of it, we are completely in charge of their primary AND secondary needs.
Now relate that back to how stressful it is to have only a small element of choice taken away from us as humans. They are pretty resilient dogs are, wouldn’t you say?
Dog Behaviour – A Choice Point!
A lot of dog guardians that I work with don’t know what a calming signal is, yet that perfectly timed yawn or nose lick is often related to a choice in the dog’s mind. He may be choosing to go towards another dog, to accept physical contact that he really doesn’t want or simply to calm himself when he’s starting to feel stressed.
Dog guardians learn before long, yet I often have to point it out. Calming signals are directly related to personal choice for dogs, they have a choice point and when you know a dog you will learn the significance of that choice point. Yet many people who truly love their dogs can’t even recognise one, how sad is that? Our beloved dogs have lost much more control to us as a species. Though we love them very much we often don’t realise that by depriving them of choice, we could be stressing them out. So, I urge you, learn your dog’s choice point and allow him to make at least some decisions in his own life.
Allow him to choose if he wants to be near you, or if he wants to take time out. Allow him to make choices of action or reaction when you are working to help him learn a necessary more helpful behaviour, just set him up to make the right ones.
Watch for the nose lick, or the yawn, and realise that your dog is entitled as all of us are, to make choices of his own.
It’s the least we owe them, right!