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  • Writer's pictureNICE

Enhancing Our Lives and Theirs: Understanding Dogs




So many dogs seem to be unseen and misunderstood in the world around us. Consider the dog who is marching along in a headcollar, not allowed to sniff. Online, we are inundated with videos of dog trainers showing their bad methods played out on worried and confused dogs. The sad thing is that many dog guardians look for professional advice and find the wrong type of trainer, an unfortunate result of unregulation in our industry. This is something which needs to change. As at the moment regulation of dog trainers is purely on a voluntary basis.


With lack of regulation dogs are going harmed, misunderstood and sadly even bullied. Dogs need people who are keen to learn, who drink in understanding, who really want to help their dogs live the most gentle, fulfilling, relaxing life possible.


Dogs need people who can see, understand and respond appropriately to their communication.


Consider the scenario of a dog who averts their gaze and licks their lips when approached. To the untrained eye, this might seem insignificant. However, these are classic signs of discomfort in dogs.





Or the dog who shows their unease through eye whites, ears pulled back and facial tension.





Recognising such signals enables us to adjust our approach, perhaps by giving the dog space, which in turn can prevent stress or fear-based reactions. This level of understanding shifts the dynamic, allowing for interactions that are respectful of the dog's feelings and comfort.



Meeting Individual Needs


Dogs, much like humans, possess distinct personalities and quirks that make them unique. This individuality is shaped by a combination of genetics, breed characteristics, upbringing, and life experiences. Just as one dog may exude boundless energy and curiosity, another might display a more reserved and contemplative nature. Their individual preferences in food, play, and interaction vary widely, requiring a tailored approach to their care and training.


Acknowledging and respecting these differences is crucial for fostering a healthy and harmonious relationship. Understanding that each dog is an individual helps us appreciate the diverse ways they express love, fear, joy, and confusion. Education helps us to understand our dogs as whole unique beings and each part of them and their needs.


Health Awareness


Imagine noticing your dog is suddenly less enthusiastic about their walks, a favourite activity. This change in behaviour could be an early sign of arthritis or another health issue. Recognising such subtle changes allows guardians to seek veterinary advice promptly. Early intervention can mean a world of difference in management and treatment, illustrating how knowledge of canine health is crucial in safeguarding their well-being. Recognising signs of pain, discomfort and physical changes all comes with education.




Ethical Treatment


Finally, let's consider the difference between using positive reinforcement training methods versus punitive measures. Positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise for good behaviour, strengthens the bond between you and your dog, promoting trust and cooperation. In contrast, punitive measures can lead to fear and anxiety, damaging the relationship.


Understanding the ethical implications of our choices and opting for methods that respect the dog's nature and intelligence demonstrates how education leads to more humane and effective care.


Educating ourselves about dogs enriches the relationship we share with them, ensuring it's built on understanding, respect, and mutual benefit. It empowers us to make informed decisions that enhance their lives and, in turn, our own.




Want to see our amazing speaker webinars but not quite ready to join NICE? Perhaps you're a dog guardian and would like to learn more but don't need a professional membership or to have CPD checked? That's fine, we want to make learning as easy and accessible for everyone. Join our webinar subscription today and get access to guest chats with all the most ethical dog people.



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